They say the best ideas in the UK usually happen whilst chatting over a cup of tea, and that is exactly how Dave Smith and I thought of the idea to use the BESA annual survey data to inform school leaders. In a break during the July Naace board meeting, we were chatting about the lack of a national picture of the state of education technology in UK schools. We wondered how we might provide a contextual background for school leaders to make their all-important education technology strategic and financial decisions.

It had become apparent, during our visits to schools, that school leaders were indicating that they were struggling to find independent advice on the overall state of ICT and the use of technology in schools nationally. They were also highlighting that they need contextual information to inform their key technology decisions.

We approached BESA to get hold of the data from their annual report on trends in state schools. This report consults with around 1200 schools in the UK and contains a wealth of data – it is written primarily for the audience of their member suppliers. Fortunately for us, Caroline Wright the Director General Designate of BESA liked the idea and gave the go ahead.

So, during the late autumn, we took the BESA schools data and flipped the audience from educational technology suppliers to school leaders, producing a focused briefing paper to provide support for key leadership decisions relating to the purchase implementation and use of education technology in schools.

This document has been completed drawing the following sources of information and data:

  • BESA Information and Communication Technology in State Schools – Full Report Volume 1 Opinions and Trends – Published September 2015 – carried out by C3 Education and NERP
  • Naace technology trends from its experience delivering its services to the education community including the Naace Self-review Framework (SRF)

The purpose of the briefing paper is to:

  • Indicate current trends in technology implementation and use in schools
  • Provide school leaders with a national ICT background context in which to make their decisions at a school level.
  • Indicate key leadership questions which might be asked as a result of the key findings of this research.

The paper was hot off the press on the Monday of Bett week and we planned a joint BESA and Naace press launch on Thursday 21 January. Little did we know that this was to be upstaged somewhat, as Secretary of State Nicky Morgan referred our paper in her Wednesday Bett opening speech.

Extract from Nicky Morgan’s Opening Speech at Bett 2016:

“I know that the British Educational Suppliers Association and Naace have done a really interesting piece of work on this in their ‘Leadership briefing paper’ which seeks to guide system leaders on how to make the best use of the technology they have and make smarter use of other technology, allowing them to plan ahead using previously unavailable evidence and research. This advice is being given out for free here at Bett and I hope schools make good use of it.” (

You can imagine the amount of press interest after that mention. Dave and I represented BESA and Naace on Bett TV, and with Mark Chambers, did a flurry of press interviews.

The leadership briefing paper contains 14 pages of data and key leadership questions around six key themes.

  • Theme 1 – Ongoing funding of education technology by schools
  • Theme 2 – Trend towards laptops and tablets as computing devices
  • Theme 3 – Provision of a robust Wi-Fi and broadband infrastructure
  • Theme 4 – Provision of adequate levels of education technology access
  • Theme 5 – The need for CPD with the introduction of more laptops and tablets
  • Theme 6 – The need for a range of high quality digital content

There is also a one side of A4 Quick Audit tool which we hope that school leaders and governors will find useful when preparing their strategic plans and associated budgets for education technology.

The paper has been well received and you can download your copy here:

BESA Naace Leadership Briefing Paper Jan 2016 Final

We hope that the production of this briefing paper will become an annual event.
David Whyley and Dave Smith – January 2016.

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