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Visit to be among the first to know what we are premiering at stand C76BETT Update sponsored byBy Terry FreedmanWhat are the issues facing schools, school leaders and ICT leaders in the coming year? Anything involving technology is bound to be full of challenges, but there are five areas in particular that warrant our goes almost without saying that first and foremost in most people's minds is the budget situation. Until relatively recently we had enjoyed well over a decade of ring-fenced funding for ICT, the most recent incarnation of which was the Harnessing Technology grant, and that has disappeared. Moreover, in budgetary planning terms, it vanished overnight.Interestingly, according to BESA's Impact of New Technologies in Schools, ICT departments are still projected to enjoy a substantial budget: the estimated primary school budget for ICT in 2011-12 is £12,710, and that for secondary schools is £56,670. Nevertheless, schools will need to consider how best to save money, and that could involve, paradoxically, investing in more (and better) technology in the short term. It will certainly involve looking at reducing running costs and getting more use from what the school already has.Along with the drastic reduction of government funding came the so-called "bonfire of the quangoes". This involved the wrapping up of those agencies we could reasonably rely on for objective advice, Becta and the QCDA. At the same time, many Local Authorities have shed their ICT advisory staff. The challenge facing schools now is: where can you get objective advice?"Schools will need to adopt unfamiliar tactics... such as inviting suppliers to demonstrate their wares"Challenges for & School allenges

Visit to be among the first to know what we are premiering at stand C76BETT Update sponsored byFortunately, much of the documentation and advice produced by those bodies is still available on the web - a useful starting point is But when it comes to making purchasing decisions, the watchword is very much caveat emptor: let the buyer beware. Schools will need to adopt tactics which may, perhaps, be unfamiliar to them, such as inviting would-be suppliers in to demonstrate their wares, collaborating with other local schools. Fortunately, BETT provides the ideal opportunity to see and compare many technology solutions in a short space of time.Many UK educators have been disconcerted by the Coalition Government's apparent disdain of technology, suggested by the two developments just considered. However, it became clear from Tim Loughton's talk at BETT 2011 and Michael Gove's recent talks at the Royal Society and the National College for School Leadership that this is far from being the case. Unfortunately, however, perception is reality, and one challenge facing school ICT leaders is convincing their Senior Leadership Team that the importance of technology in education has not been downgraded. The role of ICT as a subject in its own right is being challenged (as has happened for at least two decades anyway), and its future in the National Curriculum is in doubt, but these are somewhat different issues. Even if ICT disappears as an independent entity in schools ,the challenge of providing relevant, meaningful and on-demand access to technology across the curriculum will still remain. So, do use BETT to seek out innovative ways of using technology in various subjects, and compelling reasons for doing so.And that, of course, brings us onto another challenge: finding out where good practice is going on, and who is doing it. Again, BETT is an excellent starting point, with hundreds of seminars to choose from plus free "unconferencing events" planned for some evenings. But after BETT, what then? Joining Twitter, if you have not already done so, is a good start. ICT in education has always been challenging, and these days it is even more so. But the ICT community is still strong, vibrant and, above all, supportive.Terry Freedman is an independent educational ICT consultant. He publishes the ICT in Education website at and the Computers in Classrooms newsletter at ICTSchool Leaders