IT plays a crucial role in the running of a modern school, and it will only get more important as more and more technology is introduced into the classroom.
In 2015, 71 per cent of primary schools and 76 per cent of secondary schools already use tablets for teaching, and a growing number of schools either provide a tablet for every child or run a bring your own device (BYOD) policy.
Bringing technology into the classroom has also dramatically increased the potential for an enriched learning experience for pupils. Access to open-source textbooks and other online educational resources, productivity and organisational apps and educational games has placed a wide range of new tools in teachers’ hands.
In addition, digital communications technology has opened up the possibilities of distance learning, allowing busy experts from around the country and around the world to go into thousands of classrooms virtually without leaving their desks. Now a pupil in a remote rural school can watch presentations from potential future employers, experts from universities and other institutions or native speakers of foreign languages and even participate by asking or answering questions.
As a result of all of these developments, the data bandwidth needed for a school to run has increased rapidly in recent years, putting a strain on IT infrastructure. Ensuring a sufficiently fast connection is in place and providing Wi-Fi connectivity in classrooms is already a key challenge for IT managers and this will continue to grow in the future.
In the school office, an efficient and reliable document management system is essential. Schools run on paper documentation and, with sick notes, consent forms, registers, reports and more passing through the office, staff can be handling thousands of documents a week in larger schools.
Digital management systems such as Capita’s School Information Management System (SIMS) are making the process more efficient and reliable by avoiding reliance on paper filing systems, but it’s essential for IT managers to think about staff’s touch-points with these systems.
Well integrated and reliable scanning and print solutions are critical in allowing the digital platform to run alongside paper-based communications efficiently.