In a world of rising costs and increasing pressures on time, digital solutions can free education professionals to focus on their core job functions.
Technology is transforming efficiencies and productivity across multiple business sectors. Education providers sometimes find themselves behind the curve because budgets tend to be set a long time in advance. Increasing student numbers and additional demands on resources have to be met with lagging budgets, meaning that every penny really has to make its mark.
The current cost-of-living crisis is adding to the problem. Heating, power, transport charges and materials costs are all increasing, and staff are under greater financial pressure to seek pay rises or even quit for better paid positions elsewhere. In our recent Trends Report survey, almost two-thirds (64%) of education professionals feared the current economic situation would negatively impact their organisation.
Meanwhile providers are tasked with delivering better outcomes, defined by higher numbers of leavers equipped for the real world of work or further study with greater levels of attainment, higher grades and skills that respond to local and industry demand. Many of the current cohort have gaps in their knowledge and skills because of time lost during the pandemic. The job for education professionals isn’t getting any easier, but employing the right digital education technology solutions can help.
Let’s take a look at some of the current challenges in education and how technology can drive better outcomes:
Good decisions are based on good information. Without access to recent, accurate data, it is nigh-on impossible to make informed decisions to improve efficiency, manage budgets and gain insights that help with forecasting and planning. In many organisations though, data doesn’t get priority in budgeting. Using a digital EdTech management solution enables easy access to the right data, with, for example, real time reports run off immediately for any stakeholders that require it, from teachers, SLT, governors and Ofsted inspectors. In our Trends Survey, 93% of education professionals said that integrated data was ‘very’ to ‘moderately’ important for organisational improvement and learner success.
Teachers don’t have enough time within contracted hours to complete all of their work, invariably taking it home to complete in their personal time. They need help with some of the repetitive, time-consuming tasks so they can concentrate on using their teaching expertise to make a real difference for their students. 62% of education professionals say that technology enables faster task completion and half (51%) say that reducing the time spent on admin tasks would help them deliver better learner programmes. For managers and admin staff, digital solutions make it easy to complete examination entries on time, and all data submissions can be completed within deadlines and without stress.
Only 5% of the education professionals in our Trends Survey told us they did not work extra hours on top of contracted time. More than half (52%) said it was because they had too much work to fit into their working day. That looks like a recipe for mass-burnout that can be avoided with suitable EdTech doing some of the heavy lifting.
In our Trends Report, 47% of education professionals said employee retention and development was a business priority for the next 12 months, and almost one-quarter (24%) said recruitment. Attracting and retaining talent is a continuing problem for many reasons. Aside from the pressure on salaries in the current economic situation, there is pressure to do too much in not enough time, along with the stress of dealing with classroom behaviour and disengaged students. Smart performance management tools are crucial for employee engagement, giving staff better insights and feedback on their performance, highlighting successes for greater job satisfaction and sense of achievement. It can help guide staff learning and development pathways too. Traditional annual reviews have become a thing of the past for organisations that use digital performance management, as these support regular and ongoing conversations between staff and managers, which are more useful and up-to-date than trying to recall and assess a year’s worth of progress at once.
Almost four in ten (38%) of education professionals tell us that the performance management tools they use support profitability too.
Events such as Ofsted inspections can create high levels of anxiety and stress as there is often so much to prepare in a very short time. Using a single, digital database means providers can be Ofsted-ready, with all key information kept right up-to-date and no last minute scramble to prepare for inspections. Inspectors have all they need, making the process smoother, and allowing providers to show themselves as professional followers of best practice.
The most powerful data provides actionable insights and this means it should be able to be sliced and analysed in different ways. When providers use a suite of complementary digital solutions, this allows managers to drill down at all levels and produce meaningful reports, which are vital for Ofsted inspections and to help secure future funding. Data is a powerful tool to help leaders make improvements that drive better outcomes for learners, retaining key staff, attracting budgets and so on. Importantly, digital solutions ensure that more time can be spent on interpreting and understanding data than having to generate and gather it.
Education providers play an important role in modelling behaviour for life, and demonstrating good environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices is key. 59% of education professionals say ESG is a growing priority in their organisation and 56% say their provider is open and transparent about its ESG goals and achievements. Digital systems enable paperless communications, such as pupil reports, or letters to parents, reducing use and waste. Good ESG practice can reduce costs too, such as saving time and money for paper and printing. As the UK transitions towards its carbon zero ambitions, more and more organisations will find that attracting and maintaining funding streams will be dependent on their ability to demonstrate ESG success using data for monitoring and reporting.
- Data security
Old paper files need bulky storage and are at risk of being lost or accidentally misplaced. In the worst-case scenario, the loss of sensitive information can lead to data privacy breaches and potential legal action. Many legacy IT systems have security issues too. Modern digital solutions use the latest in-built multi-layered security tools, with access on a need-to-know-only basis, to give assurance to students, parents and guardians, as well as employees, that each individual’s data is secure.
Compliance with legislation is crucial, within educational and employment statutes. Digital solutions with built-in compliance means administrators can have confidence that all requirements are being met without getting bogged down in manual compliance processes.
- Parental engagement
Effective engagement with parents and guardians is key to ensuring the best support and outcomes for learners and a well-designed digital solution can facilitate this. 44% of education professionals in our survey told us that technology enables more efficient communications. This can include things like sharing real-time views of a student’s whereabouts and behaviour, as well as easy document uploads to share newsletters, memos and reports. Parents have improved insight into behaviour and performance, encouraging better relationships between them and the provider, for better outcomes.
Prioritising technology for future success
Technology has the power to transform education, in the classroom and within organisational and management functions. 88% of education professionals in our Trends Report told us that technology was very or somewhat important in supporting their organisation’s profitability. Adopting new digital solutions can help providers achieve more efficiencies, allowing them to deliver more for less. 58% of the education professionals in our Trends survey say that a committed and qualified teaching staff body is the biggest driver for their organisation’s success. Enabling them to do their jobs as efficiently and effectively as possible by providing the best digital tools is therefore a key element in a successful employee attraction and retention strategy.
Education professionals carry the responsibility for preparing future generations for success – on a personal level, helping shape happy, productive individuals, and more broadly as the future workforce to drive the economy and prosperity for the nation. Now more than ever, they need all the help they can get.
Advanced provides market-focused solutions for the education sector, with products including Smart Apprentices, bksb and Pro Suite, improving efficiencies and enabling professionals to do their jobs more easily.