It is estimated that Governors’ contribution to schools is worth around £1bn – according to the National Governance Association. In fact Governors represent the largest body of volunteers in the UK.
Being a Governor – even more so, Chair of Governors – carries great responsibility. You are spending your free time supporting a school and the Head Teacher with making decisions that affect everybody, from teachers to learners, parents, senior school leaders and the community as a whole.
Often Governors are asked to help make decisions on areas that they know little about and this is sometimes the case with ICT. There is a good understanding by Governors of the challenges faced within schools of course – but less knowledge around how technology could be the solution.
The whole-school benefits of ICT
We have seen that ICT has the potential to overcome many whole-school challenges, for example, to improve communication, collaboration, engagement and attainment. It can also provide accurate insights and reporting without administrative teams searching across spreadsheets for the information they need. ICT support also encompasses cyber security of course. Cyber attacks are one of the biggest threats that schools face and figures show that a fifth of education establishments have already been hit.
Where to find insights
Gaining insights from your internal ICT team can help, as well as seeking advice and support from an external ICT support provider who could offer additional benefits. Particularly as schools now have fewer technical staff than they had up to five years ago, with often one technical manager overseeing one or more schools’ technology alone.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds believes the answer to improved knowledge around ICT could be found in building relationships with industry partners, saying: “It’s only by forging a strong partnership between government, technology innovators and the education sector that there will be sustainable, focused solutions which will ultimately support and inspire the learners of today and tomorrow.”
Schools are now increasingly turning to external ICT support providers who are able to help with anything from fixing a cable to defining a short/medium and long-term ICT strategy. Plus, an ICT improvement programme can even save you money if you invest wisely in the right tools. The cloud for example, can save you thousands of pounds and hours of time in the long run, even after the initial outlay and training required.
Finding the perfect provider
If you do decide to work with an external ICT provider to complement your internal ICT team, there are hundreds to choose from. This is a big decision as you will usually be tied into a support contract for a certain period of time. Our advice is to firstly choose a provider that works solely with education and can offer you a personal approach to ICT, rather than simply box shifting or solution providing.
The company you choose should also be flexible and take any tasks off your hands that you ask them to, from the mundane to the strategic. They should get under the skin of your ICT, fully understand how it works, how it aligns with your objectives and your long-term school technology plan. They should advise on how to get from A to B to C and help you get there if required.
Working with an external ICT provider to deliver or supplement the management of your school’s ICT is a forward-thinking decision you can make as Governor or Chair of Governors. Many schools are now making this a reality.
Now, take a few minutes to ask yourself the questions below to begin to assess your school’s ICT and then try out the online ICT Health Check for further insights.