Some schools using 10 year old computers, education committee hears

A parliamentary education committee has heard concerns that the country is being left behind when it comes to educational technology.

Technology companies met with MPs at a parliamentary education committee into the industrial revolution inquiry, which is examining how best to prepare young people for future opportunities brought about by technological change and ensure lifelong learning.

While a government scheme that has seen fibre broadband rolled out to poorly-served schools in rural areas has been a success, many schools don’t have the equipment to use the latest software.

Martin Hamilton from Jisc, said: “The problem is when you get into the building, and we see from BESA, the British Educational Suppliers Association, they do an annual survey, two thirds of secondaries and two fifths of primaries say ‘we have inadequate infrastructure’.

“We hear about eight-year-old PCs, I heard on social media last night from a college which is using 10-year-old PCs. So there’s a lot that we could do even just with a one-off capital injection to say let’s get everyone on a level playing field.”

Such investment would pay for things like installing wireless access points and replacing old computers, and “would go a long way” to creating innovation.

Priya Lakhani, the founder and chief executive of CENTURY Tech, warned that tech companies find it “very very difficult” to engage with England’s “fragmented” school system, and said her firm did more business in the Middle East, Africa and US in 14 days than it did in five years in the UK.

She said a “coherent response” from the Department for Education to the rise of ed tech was needed, with headteachers more likely to be on top of the issue than government officials.

“School leaders actually talk about it more than DfE do,” she admitted.

Read more