08 Sep Technology in Primary Schools: Does your primary school meet government standards for technology and digital?
6 foundations for effective education technology in primary education
The government wants schools to level up their IT to bring the maximum educational benefits to pupils. But many primary schools are falling behind with their technology and digital equipment.
In March 2022, the Department for Education (DfE) published guidelines on how schools can meet IT service and digital equipment standards to support head teachers and school business leaders in choosing the right digital infrastructure and technology in primary schools.
When schools meet the standards, it enables access to the safest, most cost-effective tech and provides the best learning opportunities for children.
Does your primary school measure up to the standards? Let’s take a look at what the government requires.
Full fibre broadband brings speed and capacity to schools, so teachers can have confidence in using online resources as a core part of their lesson plans. Fast, reliable broadband can even save schools money because up-to-date cloud-based solutions replace reliance on costly on-site tech.
The government wants schools to implement full fibre as fast as possible, and for primary schools they’ve specified minimum download speeds of 100Mbps. If your school still needs to deliver on this target, the government advises discussing existing agreements with your provider to see how quickly they can make upgrades.
With an increasing reliance on cloud-based services, good internet connectivity is essential. The DfE expects primary schools to have a back-up connection in case there’s a problem with the internet delivery, like a faulty router or interrupted broadband connection. If a single element fails, schools need measures in place so it won’t cause a widespread outage.
Establishing resilience in your IT systems is essential for providing teachers and students with educational tools they can rely on. In other words, if the service is disrupted, children’s education is disrupted, too.
If your school doesn’t have back-up tech in place, it’s time to take action before a problem arises.
Of course, it’s not just wholesale broadband failure your primary school needs to protect against, it’s unreliable signals across the school, too.
To get the best from the wealth of resources available online, teachers need a connection they can depend on. It helps lessons flow seamlessly. Patchy Wi-Fi that limits access to teaching materials is frustrating and time-consuming for both teachers and pupils. It degrades the quality of learning.
To meet the standards laid out by the government, primary schools need good connectivity in all areas of the school.
And if your system slows down as more users connect to it, there’s work to be done. The government has specified a high-performance solution with multi-gigabit ports to support servers, media devices and wireless access points.
Learning from home
On the subject of staying connected, the government has tasked schools with providing remote learning in circumstances where it’s not possible for pupils to attend face-to-face.
Although remote education is a short-term, last resort measure, primary schools need to be prepared to switch on IT solutions as soon as reasonably practicable, with children in Key Stage (KS) 1 receiving three hours per day of teaching time, and KS2 students receiving four hours per day.
Is your primary school prepared for hybrid and online learning? The pandemic taught valuable lessons for schools in IT, but some schools still aren’t doing enough.
Giving students continuity in the event of the school setting closing, or a child at home with an infectious disease, means having an effective remote working methodology in place. That includes a strategy – and equipment – to loan devices to pupils who don’t have digital access readily available at home.
Just as your school would never forego safety procedures like key-code entry points and DBS checks to keep children safe at school, online security systems are essential for protecting children from potentially harmful or inappropriate online material.
Adequate measures to protect children in the digital world should already be in place in every primary school and across all technology in primary schools. But if you have any doubts at all that your systems are robust and effective enough to keep children safe, review the statutory safeguarding guidance and talk to your support team to ensure you have an adequate content filtering system.
Of course, protecting children from potentially damaging content is essential. But so is protecting your systems from malware. Is your school vulnerable to malicious attack?
Most cyber-attacks are fairly unsophisticated – like someone trying a door to find out whether it’s been left unlocked. But if any of these low-grade attacks on your school are successful, it draws the attention of more sophisticated cyber criminals, bringing a growing risk to your school.
Fortunately, it’s relatively simple to protect yourself from attacks, with the right advice. Government-backed Cyber Essentials certification will also help you learn how to keep your school safe.
This is not the only type of protection to think about. Another crucial aspect is whether your anti-virus protection is up to scratch?
The government now recommends cloud-based anti-virus systems because their use of AI, machine learning and behavioural detection can protect your school from both known and unknown threats, preventing them before they happen.
Leaving your school open to cyber-attack is a risk you can’t afford to take, so it’s important to speak to a good IT provider to ensure your level of protection is suitable.
Could do better: does your primary school make the grade in government standards for IT?
Studies show that when it comes to meeting technology standards and providing digital resources to enhance children’s education, it’s primary schools in the state sector who have the most work to do. With fewer staff and resources on hand, it’s the smaller settings who are more likely to be behind in their digital and technology provision.
As with any area of education, real improvement can only come when you know the quality of your current performance. Having this information allows you to build and implement a robust plan for your tech and digital provision. You can’t plug a gap without knowing where the leaks are.
However, primary schools are busy places where staff are often required to wear many hats. Assessing your performance in a field with so many complex strands isn’t easy.
It takes just two minutes to discover how your primary school measures up.