If you want technology adoption to work, there are certain things that are imperative to success; vision, purpose and infrastructure are all essential, but of equal importance is teacher expertise and confidence. However, how can you eradicate doubt and apprehension if teachers do not have access to the technology you are trying to establish in the classroom?
In both my previous teaching positions, upon arrival, a brand new computer was automatically dished out to all new teachers. Indeed, after I established a BYOD scheme at the International School of Monaco, each teacher-bound MacBook Pro was coupled with an iPad! Teachers could therefore practice using the software they were expected to use at school, in the comfort of their own homes. Moreover, many teachers took the opportunity to research and adopt new Apps and software that they introduced to their classroom. All this was then shared with regular in-house TeachMeets, a weekly section in our staff meetings and via our school blog. The de-centralisation of Edtech knowledge was in full swing.
However in September, when joining my current school, no technology was distributed to new teachers. Indeed, none of the existing staff had been provided with technology for learning either. Furthermore, it was quickly made clear that there were no plans to extend the budget to make this a possibility.
Therefore, I faced a difficult conundrum. A vital cog in the tech-revolution was missing! How could things move forward if the transformational technology was not in the hands of the very people that were supposed to be facilitating it’s adoption?
Enter the Salary Sacrifice scheme…
In a nutshell, a Salary Sacrifice scheme gives employees the opportunity to buy equipment and pay it back directly through your Salary, but with at least a 32% discount. The scheme means you do not have to pay the 20% basic rate income tax and 12% national insurance contribution. Therefore you could purchase a £399 iPad but only pay £271.32 and spread the cost over 24 months. Furthermore, the equipment is yours to keep!
Although not the Utopia of teacher tech distribution (that would be free tech to all teachers), the Salary Sacrifice does offer a very attractive option for schools who wish to ensure that teachers can develop their tech skills, but do not have the budget to provide equipment.
Once the Salary Sacrifice scheme is underway, an on-line portal is opened that contains a list of the equipment the school wishes staff to be able to purchase for use at school. Our portal was constructed by the company we chose to facilitate our scheme – Solutions INC – and I would highly recommend their first class service. The portal remains open for a couple of weeks and once staff have had the opportunity to select their goods, it shuts and the equipment is ordered. Of course there is work to be done by the bursary to adjust pay accordingly, but Solutions offer a huge amount of assistance to ensure this was done smoothly in the background. Our first portal has just closed and we have had over 25 orders placed.
The opportunities that mobile technology has to redefine learning in the classroom are incredible. However, traditional classroom barriers and monolithic teaching methods will never be shifted without teacher expertise ( and a open-minded willingness to change). Therefore, once the equipment arrives it is fundamental that we run regular work shops for staff so that they can learn and share their ideas with each other in order to bring their new skills to school and achieve the ultimate goal of raising standards and engagement.
I look forward to sharing our progress next academic year.