In addition to expenses related to staffing, ICT costs present a significant challenge for most school budgets. As a result, more schools in the UK are seeking more cost-effective ways to implement IT equipment and software to continually improve student’s education.
If you are a person in charge of making financial decisions at an educational institution, part of the IT department or the school’s ICT Manager, you are probably seeking ways to reduce annual ICT expenditures on hardware, software and support. The challenge is to do this without placing students at a disadvantage both in education and the outside world.
Before you determine the best ways your school can reduce its technology costs, an ICT strategy should be developed to ensure you can make the most of the school’s ICT budget. The most common way to make unnecessary expenditures is to purchase IT solutions for problems that do not exist.
If you do not currently have an ICT strategy or the one you do have could use an overhaul, you should begin by considering some key issues such as:
Educational challenges your school currently faces.
This could include an assessment of current and future needs or requirements that must be met in accordance with Ofsted. Or, perhaps it could be other initiatives that support both teachers and students in the classroom environment.
The type of IT solutions you wish to implement.
Determine the types of modern technology solutions your school should implement to provide a more robust learning experience. This may include the introduction of new ICT learning trends in UK education.
Existing technologies that can be optimised for improved usage.
This involves assessment of your existing resources to determine what ones are not being used and others that are used but can be modified to deliver a better and more efficient solution.
What can be implemented now.
Identify all existing ICT resources to gain a better perspective of where your school IT is right now. Determine what you can do to reallocate resources prior to introducing innovative solutions.
What can be implemented in the future.
Consult with other schools at your level to learn more about what is working, what is not and why. This will help you to make the most of your ICT budget when introducing new learning solutions at your school.
Once your organisation has an ICT strategy in place, then it will be easier to decide on some of the best ways to reduce annual IT expenditures. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.
1. Replace Outdated technology.
Desktop PCs, classroom multimedia devices and standalone servers are all high energy consumption devices. Additionally, some of the components are heat intensive and require cooling systems to help them run reliably and efficiently.
“Intelligently replacing old school IT systems with new, more efficient hardware can save schools around £20,000 per year.” – Carbon Trust, a UK government-funded, not-for-profit green technology company.
Purchasing newer ICT equipment that is energy-efficient such as devices with LED monitors, etc., help to reduce energy costs associated with IT. When considering this option, compare energy-use ratings across different manufacturers because in most cases, they vary.
Additionally, when possible, compare environmental impacts across the lifecycle which include device production, distribution and use right through to disposal when replacements are needed. Most importantly, device use represents the largest impact which is why you should consider equipment that is energy efficient and sustainable.
2. Use a Virtual Learning Environment to Reduce Printing Costs.
Many schools implement Virtual Learning Environment software to significantly reduce printing costs. By leveraging the credentials of staff and students, IT workers can control annual printing bills through user permissions and restrictions.
Additionally, VLE software provides a way to scan resources into the application. This saves a significant of money when it comes to running and maintaining laser printers and photocopiers. It also significantly reduces costs in terms of paper use, printing cartridges, and other printing related supplies and is a green alternative to conventional printing infrastructures.
VLE software provides administrators with a robust array of print management tools that help to control and reduce printer use. Using the capability to assign credit to individuals, permissions and restrictions can be used to enforce a cost-effective printer use policy and prevent waste caused by unnecessary printing jobs.
Some of the features included in print management software include:
- The ability to restrict or disable printing by a specific user or group of devices.
- Tracking of all documents being printed.
- Customised reporting on printer use.
- Assignment of printing costs across departments.
- Local and network printer management.
- Automated assignment of print credits to individual users.
- Tracking of printing costs for each individual device. …and more.
3. Consider Leasing IT Equipment.
If your school is constantly being required to do more with less resources, you may want to consider leasing ICT equipment to allow for investment in other areas of IT. By working with a reliable provider, leasing provides your school with an easy way to budget for IT equipment. This helps to maximise IT funds by leaving a portion of monetary resources untouched.
Leasing IT equipment also improves cash management within your IT budget since you are given the opportunity to repay over a specified period of time. Perhaps you could consider working with a reputable ICT services provider (like us!) to help you validate the purchase prices. This will ensure that you do not overpay for the equipment while making the most of acquisition costs.
4. Consider Adoption of Cloud Services.
Adopting cloud services makes it possible for your school to provide state-of-the-art ICT services that enhance productivity and learning for students, teachers, staff and educational researchers. Cloud services also help your school to easily meet Ofsted and other educational requirements in an affordable manner.
Additionally, cloud services offer rapid adoption of the latest technologies and applications. These types of cloud services are available at any time, from any location and on any device. This makes access flexible at a cost that is significantly less than deploying applications on the premises.
Microsoft Office 365 Education.
Office 365 Education Cloud services provide you with access to the latest versions of Microsoft Office applications on a pay as you go basis. The cloud services provider deploys the application in addition to performing the updates and maintenance. Instead of having to purchase a license every time an updated version is released, the updates are included with your subscription.
G Suite for Education.
Like Office 365, G Suite for Education is web-based and provides staff and students with access to calendars, email, document creation and collaboration, spreadsheets, and more. The tools provided in cloud applications help teachers and students to create interactive and quality content. Students also develop skills using tools they will need for the outside world as well.
Other Curriculum Based Applications
Your cloud services provider can also deploy other curriculum specific applications and staff applications that assist with daily school operations such as classroom collaboration, homework assignments, attendance, student feedback, and much more. The applications are deployed, updated, and maintained by your cloud service provider at a fraction of what it would cost you to deploy and maintain the applications onsite.
5. Server Virtualisation.
Moving all server and storage equipment off the premises offers a wonderful opportunity for cost savings. Take the time to do research on cloud service providers to compare costs and services. Then compare these costs to what your school must pay for maintenance over the life of the equipment, IT staff to maintain it, costs of depreciation, energy use and building space, to name a few concerns.
These costs are somewhat fixed compared to the variable costs of using the cloud. With cloud services you only pay for what you use with the ability to scale up or down at any time. This has a more positive impact on your IT budget from the previous approach of relatively fixed costs for IT provision on the premises.
Server virtualisation allows for the consolidation of enormous amounts of processing and storage capacity without having to invest in unused resources in anticipation of future expansion. Additionally, if your educational institution is spread across multiple campuses or buildings, different systems can be hosted on the same server while at the same time, being kept separate. This eliminates the need for separate servers with redundancy for data backup and scalability.
The type of cloud deployment model you choose for server virtualisation will depend upon the type of services you want to outsource to this type of environment. The cloud services provider can help you to determine how to handle sensitive information, applications accessed daily as well as other assets that are not mission-critical. This can be done according to specific educational standards and requirements.
6. Outsource ICT Support/ ICT Manager Support.
Many schools in the UK are choosing to outsource their ICT support to reduce costs, save time, and increase focus on new learning initiatives. By outsourcing ICT support or IT Manager Support, this provides your school with access to a wide range of IT expertise such as hardware, software, training, security etc., which improves risk management and makes your technology future-proof.
Additionally, moving IT support to the cloud helps schools significantly reduce expenditures while improving the learning experience and productivity for schools of all levels and sizes. As a result, schools are looking to work with a reliable and trustworthy ICT service provider that can help facilitate a smooth transition to the cloud, provide continuous IT support and help desk services in addition to offering ongoing expertise as modern technologies develop.
“The marketplace is increasingly seeing cloud services as the way forward, but advises schools to select a knowledgeable and experienced service provider that shares the school vision and can provide both initial and ongoing assistance. As the complexity of locally hosted, school based ICT solutions increases, it can become more and more challenging to ensure the same level of reliability in respect of the ICT provision in schools’ – making the support of a trusted partner in this journey essential.” – Department for Education (DfE) July 2017
7. Partner with a Cloud Service Provider to Conduct an ICT Audit.
As an educational institution, it is likely that the planning process and risk assessment for cloud migration may be complex. Although cloud services can rapidly deliver benefits to your school, it is important to be sure you are well prepared for the move to reap the most benefits from cloud computing. This is where a cloud service provider can be beneficial when conducting an ICT audit.
A qualified cloud service provider can help your school to develop a blueprint that best reflects your vision, goals and objectives. During the decision making and planning process, the service provider can help to identify the type of data that is to be processed and hosted in addition to assessing the readiness of your school’s IT from a technical standpoint.
In the long term, partnering with a cloud service provider during the planning phase can help to prevent unnecessary costs associated with choosing the wrong infrastructure.
8. Try Cloud Services on a Small Scale.
Another way you can reduce technology costs is to engage in a test run to make sure the purchase is suitable for your school’s needs. Cloud service providers can help you to create a pilot project on a small scale to allow teachers and students to try the technology in its intended environment.
A trial run with the technology along with specific goals and objectives led by a cloud service professional and a leadership team in your school will help you to determine the best fit before you commit to using the technology full scale. The trial phase can also include students to help evaluate the effectiveness of the solutions you are considering.
Once you have completed the trial, you can collaborate with the leadership team and the cloud service provider to determine what works and what needs improvement. This includes meeting your goals for sustainability and development over the long term.
If you decide to move forward, a more accurate timeline for investment can be determined to ensure the best value for your money in the long run. This provides peace of mind that the appropriate devices and solutions are being used without having to shell out costly upfront investments.
9. Use CPD to Get the Most Out of Resources.
In order to ensure you get the most out of your IT investment, it is important to make Continual Professional Development (CPD) a significant part of your ICT plan. Any technology that your school commits to using should be used to its fullest potential in the classroom.
CPD ensures everyone understands exactly what can be achieved with modern technology. Team leaders should be able to demonstrate the technology to make it clear how teachers can use it to engage students in learning.
Additionally, teachers must feel comfortable using the technology to help deliver interesting and engaging classroom lessons. Otherwise, the investment will never be used in its fullest capacity. In this regard, it is notable to mention that many cloud service providers offer thorough training as part of your subscription and may do so on a regular basis.
Any innovative technologies you introduce over time must follow the same CPD process to avoid wasted resources that could otherwise add tremendous value to your student’s education.
10. Use a Cloud Model to Improve Security.
In the past, security has been one of the main concerns when migrating to the cloud. However, cloud service technologies have come a long way since their inception and now provide advanced security at a more affordable cost.
When you partner with a cloud service provider, they implement security services on a larger scale. Therefore, the cost savings is passed on to the customer who is provided access to state-of-the-art security technologies at an affordable cost. Additionally, the service provider must meet regular audits and security compliance standards and requirements. This includes any security compliances that are mandated for educational institutions.
Investing in security with a managed services provider buys you better protection than what you could provide on the premises. This includes all types of protection such as:
- Threat management (Ex: Protection against DDoS attacks and other threats).
- Vulnerability scanning.
- Disaster recovery.
- Antivirus and anti-malware protection.
- Patch management.
- Authentication and encryption.
- Firewall and network monitoring.
- Rapid rollout of updates. …and much more.
According to the UK Schools Cloud Survey Results 2017,
“When asked, ‘What percentage of your school’s IT solutions do you expect to be delivered fully or partially via the cloud in three years?’ UK schools said that their usage would rise from 79 to 93% for email, 43 to 86% for storage, 50 to 93% for web hosting, 43 to 86% for collaborative apps, 22 to 77% for disaster recovery and 15 to 73% for business apps.
This compares to US schools who today use the cloud to deliver 88% of their emails, 83% of their storage, 82% of their web hosting, 76% of their disaster recovery and 75% of their business apps.”
“So, what are the key drivers? When UK schools were asked why they had moved to the cloud, 70% said to cut costs and 59% replied, to enable them to manage systems more efficiently but only 35% said to help improve student performance and 18% to enhance the quality of teaching.
This compares to US schools where – 80% are using the cloud to improve student performance, 60% to help improve the quality of teaching, 0% to reduce costs and 20% to manage their systems more efficiently.”
We’ll reduce your Technology Costs and Improve Your Teaching and Learning Experience.
(We’ll also provide ongoing support to your schools ICT Manager/department).
Our ICT is a Professional ICT Services provider that exclusively serves the UK Education Sector. We provide a comprehensive range of ongoing ICT Support Services and Technology Solutions to schools of all sizes located across London and the East of England.
With over 20 years experience in the ICT services sector, we have the knowledge and skills required to implement the latest technology solutions that will reduce your ICT costs and improve the curricular teaching and learning experience throughout your school.
Contact an ICT Education specialist directly today by calling 0208 501 7670, or provide us with more details of your requirements in the online contact form below.