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Visit to be among the first to know what we are premiering at stand C76BETT Update sponsored byThe British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) is the education the Government, schools and suppliers to ensure the sector's standards it carries out regular sector surveys and focus groups to understand the Ray Barker, director, BESA considers the impact of the policy changes In most cases the issues and corresponding views affecting primary and secondary education are very different. However, one opinion that is currently the same across both sectors is that budget allocation is better than expected - a surprisingly positive view! However, it is the lack of ring fenced funding for ICT that has brought the most concern. The majority of schools agree that ICT is now 'embedded' in the curriculum; in their words 'it's just there; it's just natural; it's how kids are brought up'. Paradoxically, this view is exactly the reason the Government gives for no longer separating out ICT funding, as it should now be a part of the school's overall budget and the school's responsibility to choose the ICT solutions best for their particular needs. The appointment of Vanessa Pittard at the Technology Policy Unit at the DfE and Michael Gove's comments at the Royal Society in July should now instil schools with more confidence in the Government's commitment to technology in education.Our recent ICT in UK State Schools research indicated that by 2012/13 nearly half of all schools anticipate more than 50% of pupil-time will be exposed to teaching and learning using ICT. About 10% note that nearly 100% of all pupil-time will involve exposure to ICT. Schools must therefore continue to invest in ICT to stop any digital divide. Schools are not going to be told what to do any more and don't need to wait to be guided by the government on their ICT investments.Academy status was an issue that was very prevalent for both primary and secondary schools. Most agree that some services provided by their local authority are good value for money, but many feel that they can get better value elsewhere and, of course, Academy status enables them to do this. To fill any budget gaps brought in by the lack of ring- fenced funding, for extended schools services for example, many secondary schools are now looking for new kinds of commercial deals to cut the cost of resources. For example, one school we came across had become a 'show school' for a photocopying company, receiving free upgrades. Others are working in school clusters, to give them better buying power in areas such as catering. BESA ICTupdate"Schools don't need to wait to be guided by the government"