The Secretary of State for Education is right – we need to help time-stretched teachers

Published Friday, August 10, 2018 12:59 PM by Gordon Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, Advanced

The Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, has challenged the tech industry to help tackle some of the biggest issues facing the education sector. As reported in the press earlier this week, he said that only a minority of schools and colleges are currently taking advantage of the opportunities that technology can provide, and he wants the industry to help “create a step change in education” by improving teaching and slashing teacher workload.

The call comes as no surprise. Teachers have become frustrated with the increasingly onerous administrative burden required to maintain school performance data, spending too much time on marking, planning, attainment data entry and management, which explains why the government sees an opportunity for the tech industry to tackle administration processes to reduce the burden of ‘non-teaching’ tasks, thus helping teachers concentrate on teaching and their own development.

It’s time to rethink

The tech industry can and should play a bigger part in the whole education space to free up valuable resources to focus on educating – not wasting time on cumbersome administration tasks. There just isn’t enough time to be able to coast through the teaching process which is why, in this changing digital age, it’s important to take a step back and rethink how to improve the learning experience for teachers and pupils alike, looking at issues that are affecting the education industry as a whole and what role technology can play in alleviating some of the challenges faced today.

Technology is now a key driver in eliminating unnecessary, mundane tasks. However, just 53% of employees have the right tools to do their job effectively, according to our Trends Report, so education leaders need to bring the rest of their workforce up to speed. According to recent analysis into the impact of high levels of pressure on work, 46% of education leaders admitted they would love to benefit from technology’s positive force at work. Now is the time to start.

But, it is important to note that this shouldn’t be about using technology for the sake of it but applying it as a tool that will directly impact and enhance day to day working in order to improve the teaching experience and the overall learner outcomes.

Education organisations should start with the positive impact they want to achieve:

  • The operational management of the school, college or university to save time or remove manual tasks
  • The ability to provide heads and leaders with the reporting insight they need for better decision making
  • The impact these changes can deliver and how it can enable the organisation to stay one step ahead

Grimsby Institute is one example of a college with an appetite for technology to transform its workforce for the better. It is using Advanced’s further education software to increase employee productivity and, as a result, its support staff are a 200% more efficient on basic learner administration tasks – the equivalent of freeing up 11 people to focus efforts elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Buckinghamshire College Group, simplified its student administration to maximise efficiencies, so its staff could spend the maximum amount of time focusing on its learners and their education. Thanks to Advanced’s integrated student Management Information System, it is now agile enough to respond to student information with speed and accuracy.

Technology for all

As Damian rightly says, though, the challenge now is for the tech industry to demonstrate how to roll technology out more widely across the country. Ultimately, it comes down to collaboration. 

We need to see more leaders in tech companies work together to educate the entire workforce across schools, colleges and universities on how technology can make a direct and positive impact. Even better if they can show how technology is more effective when integrated with other systems in the organisation, such as finance, procurement and HR.

One such example in higher education space is the University of Manchester, which created £1.8m in efficiencies simply by using Advanced’s Cloud procurement solution, freeing up those resources to student and teacher facing investments.

Cloud connected systems mean that student information can be kept up-to-date centrally, improving accuracy and reliability, and provide a single real-time view of student data for all employees as well as key stakeholders and the board. It puts an end to siloed data.

It’s also this level of visibility that helps education leaders and decision makers spend more wisely and reinvest more in education and teacher training.

Why the Cloud? For starters, it is a low-cost, sustainable and secure platform that can facilitate a learner centric view of education thanks to the easy access to data and scope for assessment preparation and planning. It also allows for business as usual during the implementation process, which is crucial for learners and users.

The bottom line is that teachers work as hard as they do for the benefit of the pupils and, for this reason, any integrated technology that can support them alongside empowering students are worth researching and supporting.

Advanced is aligned to Damian’s view and is active in supporting the education sector and the 2.5 million UK learners who already benefit through its technology to drive these changes forward.