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1 in 10 Schools are Digitally Mature

Dec 08, 2022

Research has found that just one in ten schools are classed as ‘digitally mature’.

The Department for Education (DfE) recently published a report that explored digital maturity in order to establish the current state and use of technology across schools in England.

The main aim of the research was to use the Education Technology Survey 2020-2021 to establish a hierarchy of technology in schools as an indicator of their digital maturity. This metric was then used to explore the relationship between digital maturity and attainment.

What is Digital Maturity ?

As defined by the DfE, digital maturity comprises three pillars: strategy, technology and capability.

Strategy

This includes strategic planning, investment into technology and change management.

Technology

This includes connectivity, infrastructure, cloud readiness, hardware, software and cyber security.

Capability

This covers staff training and how confident they are using technology, access to ICT expertise, whether schools have the ability to deliver a curriculum remotely and support for pupil use.

How is Digital Security Measured?

Once survey questions were assigned to each of the three key pillars, a scoring system was developed which allowed schools to accumulate scores for question responses in each pillar, producing a digital maturity metric score.

What Did the Research Find?

Having used the scoring system and other data, the DfE’s analysis found that schools had made more progress towards digital maturity in technology and capability, which had average scores of 0.58 and 0.62, than they had in strategy, where their average score was just 0.27.

As an overall measure of digital maturity, the research found that only 9% of the 650 schools surveyed were classed as digitally mature. 31% had “a few fundamentals in place” but had “low digital maturity”, while 60% were found to be somewhere in the middle.

Further analysis found that schools with the highest digital capabilities tended to be those in urban areas and secondary academies, while rural, primary and local authority maintained schools had lower digital standards when it came to digital transformation (DX).

Is There a Correlation Between Digital Maturity and Student Attainment?

Across the three pillars, there were some statistically significant correlations between the digital maturity pillar scores for primary schools and a range of Key Stage 2 (KS2) measures.

In order to further explore the relationship between pillar scores and attainment, schools’ scores were divided into three tiers: high, medium and low. The average attainment measures were then calculated for the three groups and some of the differences showed significant increases in attainment scores.

Schools’ Experiences of Digital Maturity

Qualitative interviews were carried out with 20 schools using the high, medium and low tiers of digital maturity. Ten digitally mature schools with ‘high’ scores (5 primary, 5 secondary) and 10 ‘low’ digitally mature schools (5 primary, 5 secondary) were involved in the interviews.

Key messages from the interviews found that digitally mature schools were more likely to say they had a formal technology strategy in place, with a focus on improving pupil outcomes and the meaningful use of technology in the classroom.

Digitally mature schools had also been successful in embedding technology with a clear focus on how it could be used to improve pupil outcomes.

Other factors that supported the success of schools becoming digitally mature included strong staff buy-in, expertise of staff, a strong reliable infrastructure and having the capacity to know what tech is available and has the most impact.

Key factors that schools considered when deciding which technology to invest in includes affordability, costs, suitability of technology for the setting, accessibility for pupils and staff and required investment in staff time and training.

Low digitally mature schools found budgets and funding challenging, which made it more difficult for them to invest in new technology or maintain existing tech. Some low digitally mature schools felt that their staff lacked confidence to drive technology use forward in school.

Technical ability, funding and concerns about the security of documents and systems were all challenges for schools that were not yet fully cloud-based.

Many schools found it difficult to comment on whether or not technology had an impact on pupil attainment, cost savings or teacher workload, meaning there was no clear evidence of the relationship between schools’ levels of digital maturity and pupil attainment.

What are the Benefits of Being Digitally Mature?

The more digitally mature a school is, the greater opportunities there are to elevate student learning. Here are some of the ways in which digital security can benefit your school.

Provides More Flexible Ways of Working

In the past, ‘education’ meant a teacher, a curriculum and a lesson plan. If a student was unable to grasp content straight away, they were often left behind to avoid disrupting the lesson plan.

Now, technology is becoming increasingly essential in education as it provides more flexible ways of working and learning, helping students to find a method that works best for them (including visual, auditory, reading, writing and kinaesthetic.)

This means more students' learning needs can be accommodated compared to traditional learning styles. This also provides greater opportunities for students to explore topics in greater depth and students can avoid being left behind with more open lines for communication as well as using alternative learning methods that work best for them.

For example, some students may learn best from listening to an audio book, while others prefer taking part in interactive activities on their devices.

More Interactive

Technology helps to make learning more interactive, making it much more engaging and sharpening critical thinking skills– which are fundamental to the development of analytic reasoning.

Additionally, more interactive learning through technology can quicken the educational process from between 25% and 60%, speeding up the rate at which children learn.

Allows for Collaborative Working

When students collaborate, they often learn more efficiently. Technology opens up hundreds of doors for more collaborative learning, whether it's as simple as having a chat box open during the lesson to collaborate as teams or connecting students from home and in the classroom.

This helps them to share their own knowledge and receive knowledge from others in different ways.

Supports Life Skills

School is designed to prepare students for life in the adult world. A huge part of this is developing technological skills as the world becomes more and more digital.

By teaching students how to align their learning with technology, they will know how to use the same skills in the future when it comes to using technology in the workplace, household chores and managing their money.

How DMS Can Help Your School to Become More Digitally Mature

At DMS, we know that technology is becoming more and more essential in the education sector. That’s why we provide affordable and easy-to-manage technology bundles to help your classroom thrive, including:

For more information on how the DMS Group can help your school, college, university or other educational organisation, get in touch with our team today.

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