Boris Johnson has confirmed that school budgets will increase by over £7 billion per year by 2022. This is a very welcome increase although many in the education sector are treating the announcement with caution. This is understandable given previous budget cuts, political instability and the fact that schools are having to fund most of the teacher pay increases, announced earlier this year, from their own budget.
The first cash injection is not due until April 2020 in maintained schools with academy trusts having to wait a further six months. However, currently, according to recent research, only 33% of secondary schools and 60% of primary schools consider that they are sufficiently equipped with ICT infrastructure and devices. Another six months may be too long to wait for a much-needed investment. Indeed, schools already spend over £900m on education technology every year and it’s estimated that the global market will be worth £129bn by 2020.
Some of this growth may be fuelled by apps designed to enhance learning in the classroom and reduce teacher workload by making the communication between pupils, teacher and parents more seamless. And as tech-savvy millennials move into senior leadership roles, the drive is there to transform the classroom from one of textbooks and chalk to tablets and interactive whiteboards.
Nonetheless, while budgets may be set to increase they will still be limited. As a result, many schools have already realised the benefits of payment-over-time models which allow schools to digitally transform the classroom, but, without the need for significant capital expenditure.
What do payment-over-time models mean for schools?
A payment-over-time model is nothing new — many people fund their cars or phones using the same kind of model. The benefits for schools are just the same. Taking out a bespoke subscription from a digital services provider gives staff and students access to the latest technology without creating a considerable hole in the budget.
The advantages of payment-over-time solutions are many. Firstly, they make it easier to fund increasingly popular 1:1 schemes, whereby schools pay for and provide each pupil with an electronic device for educational purposes. This used to be unaffordable for many, but a monthly service subscription makes it instantly viable. This model also makes it easy for institutions to continually refresh their technology assets — an increasingly important requirement, as students do not want to be using equipment that is older than what they’re used to at home.
And it’s not just pupil devices which can be funded. Interactive whiteboards, networking equipment, CCTV and multi-function devices can all be added to an as-a-service agreement.
But how schools manage and fund this is crucial. That’s where the Schools Leasing Framework (SLF) comes in, ensuring a risk and hassle-free way for UK schools to enter into a fully compliant funding agreement.
What is the SLF?
The SLF offers a pre-qualified and fully IAS 17 compliant solution for adopting technology through payment-over-time solutions. It gives schools the confidence and ability to accelerate digital transformation for teachers and students alike.
All leases are fully compliant operating leases and schools can be secure in the knowledge that they are entering into a regulated agreement that complies with the Department for Education (DfE) guidance.
The Framework is open to all UK schools and allows each one to choose the technology, supplier, payment terms and subscription model that best meets their needs. The benefits of using the leasing framework are many, including;
• improving the teaching and learning environment by giving schools access to the latest technology
• regulatory compliance
• ease of forecasting cashflow
• no upfront fees or charges
• the opportunity to update and upscale the technology as needed
The process is also simple. Once the technologies and suppliers are chosen, a contract can be drawn up which allows the lease provider to invoice the suppliers directly. The education establishment is invoiced by the lease provider via an agreed payment model over a predefined term of two, three or four years. And where there are many technology requirements from many different suppliers, there is still just one lease for the entire investment.
Investment for the future
In such an unpredictable climate, technology investment often gets put on the back burner in schools. However, pupils still need to be educated and they move through education at the same pace, regardless of the political backdrop.
Students need to have access to, and learn about, the latest technology in order to gain access to information and be prepared for the workplace. But, understandably, this is difficult to accomplish on a limited budget. The right leasing agreement can overcome this by providing teachers and students with the latest technology while protecting the educational establishment from unexpected costs and termination agreements.