Four key IT questions school leadership teams should ask themselves in 2023

Is your school IT provision up to standard? Unless you’re an expert, it can be hard to know. Fortunately, the recent EdTech Leadership Briefing Paper from BESA, in association with NAACE, has highlighted numerous school technology challenges to help school leadership teams focus.

In this article, we’re taking a closer look at four of the most fundamental questions you can ask, so you can make the right IT decisions for your school.

1/ Does your school have a long-term strategic plan for EdTech investments?

With technology evolving so fast, it’s tempting to make knee-jerk reactions to the latest offers or make assumptions about what you need. At other times, aging technology and devices are left to limp along long past their useful lifespan, simply because there’s no proper plan for upgrading them.

To meet school technology needs effectively, leadership teams need to consider IT purchasing in a much more strategic way. A detailed plan for how your IT must evolve over the next 3-5 years to align with your educational and organisational strategy will help your school stay up to date and make smart technology decisions that fit both the available budget and the technical requirements.

Without and effective School IT strategy, its leaders are risking their IT provision becoming chaotic, inadequate, and far more costly than it should be.

2/ Does your school have sufficient provision for core broadband and Wi-Fi infrastructure?

The pressure is on for school leaders to ensure that their broadband and Wi-Fi meets the growing demands of the school community – which is consuming and sharing more digital content than ever before. With a growing variety and volume of educational resources available online, effective learning as well as school operations depend on strong, reliable internet connectivity both to and across the school.

Government standards specify that schools must meet high speed school internet standards by 2025. It’s time for school leadership teams who haven’t yet tackled this to make some rapid decisions.  Every school should check whether they are eligible for Connect the Classroom funding – but even if they do not, action on infrastructure improvements may still be important.

Otherwise, your broadband and Wi-Fi provision won’t be up to speed in any sense of the word.

3/ Does your school have a strategic plan to move from on-premises servers to cloud-based systems?

On-premises servers are outdated technology, and the costs of maintaining and securing them within your school are spiralling up. If your school doesn’t yet have a strategy to move all its data, software and content to faster, cheaper, safer cloud-based servers, leadership teams are putting classrooms at risk. You’re also spending precious time and money on sustaining old technology – resources that could be much better employed elsewhere.

If your school leadership doesn’t yet have a strategy to move to the cloud, a specialist like Simply IT can help get the ball rolling.

4/ Does your school still need to resource a fixed computer provision using desktop machines?

The world has changed. School leadership teams should be seriously considering how they can make make full use of the opportunities and flexibility offered by mobile devices and remote working technologies to run a more efficient educational operation.

In moving from fixed desktop machines to slimline laptops, your school can bring agility to teaching – even in the face of unexpected changes. For example, if a teacher is unable to get to school – perhaps due to bad weather – planned lessons can still go ahead remotely; the class simply needs to be supervised by a teaching assistant or other member of staff.

School leadership teams need to bear in mind that fixed computer provision can also lead to security vulnerabilities. A better option is to use a virtual desktop, where staff can access an up-to-date desktop that has everything they need, safe in the knowledge that it’s automatically destroyed and regenerated at each use.

Virtual desktops are more secure, and lead to lower levels of downtime while updates are installed. Plus, it means you can get the same performance from a lower-spec computer, like a thin client, rather than needing to invest in an expensive laptop for each teacher.

If your school can move away from fixed computer provision, staff and students alike will gain better, safer access to learning resources.

How school leadership teams can move further and faster with IT planning

If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions for your school, then it’s time to make changes. When you partner with an experienced school IT specialist like Simply IT, you can successfully deliver on your school’s technology and connectivity needs without the stress.

As BESA members, we’re recognised as trusted educational suppliers, supporting school leadership teams and decisionmakers with the simple IT advice they need, and IT services that are simplified and optimised for schools.

Get in touch to arrange an IT audit of your current setup – or simply to share your challenges.

For more core knowledge on the Edtech challenge that school leaders need to know today, download the BESA leadership briefing paper.