“With funding per pupil set to fall in real terms by 6.5%1, more and more UK schools are adopting a cloud first strategy and turning to cloud-based solutions to reduce their IT spend and make significant savings”, says Ian Nairn, Managing Director of C-Learning.
The company, which commissioned an independent survey from Schoolzone revealed that adoption of the Cloud in UK schools is set to double in the next three years, just as it has in the US.
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 schools2 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.
Commenting on the figures, Ian Nairn said, “With school and college budgets under increased pressure too many today are missing opportunities to save money and IT staff time by moving on-premise services such as email, storage, web hosting, collaboration apps, disaster recovery and tailored business apps to the Cloud. It is however encouraging to see that the majority of schools and colleges see a significant shift in the delivery of all these services from on-premise to the Cloud over the next two to three years.”
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% 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.
Emma Fish , Google Education team UK commented “The responses from the UK in this survey represent the assumption that new technology has been hard to deploy based on past experience but we’re making the solutions we supply very easy to manage. With a management console, setting policies and pushing out content at the touch of a button means it’s also very cost effective."
Neil Sawyer, HP Commercial Channel and Education Director (UK and Ireland) also commented on the uptake of cloud in UK schools, “Working alongside our Google specialist partners, we have seen a significant uptake in the cloud first strategy of schools in the (UK and Ireland) over the past two-three years. What we find is that those schools and larger colleges who invest a small amount of time understanding this proposition and what it can deliver are rewarded with a wide range of security/cost benefits and can genuinely deliver on the nirvana goal of one to one learning for all students.”
“It is interesting to see that after US schools have secured the benefits from reducing costs and ICT staff time by moving services to the Cloud they are able to focus on matters that make a real difference to their students and teachers and their ability to drive forward innovation and increased support for teaching and learning,” said Mr Nairn.
When asked about the most significant barriers to the adoption of Cloud services, 52% said it was budget, 43% of UK schools cited security and 43% said data privacy. In the US 46% of schools expressed concern about security; 38% data privacy but only 35% budget.
“It’s clear to see that schools and colleges in both the US and UK view these issues as similar levels of concern, but the majority in both the US and UK believe these issues are getting easier over time,” he said.
“With the growing use of digital resources ICT costs represents a major element of a school budget, so it’s no surprise that forward-looking schools are moving to the Cloud to deliver the services they need and, most importantly, freeing up staff to focus on raising educational standards.”
The question all school leaders need to ask themselves as they prepare for their major ICT purchases this year is “Can I save money and staff time by adopting cloud based solutions and if I can are Chromebooks the devices we need to access these cloud services?”