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VIEWS & OPINION


Using ICT to reduce scho ol operating costs


Comment by JAY RMEducation


AYNE DAVIES, Services Director, AV Finding ways to cut costs without


negatively impacting teaching is an issue pertinent to all education providers across the UK. In addition, schools have an ambition to integrate ICT throughout learning, but using ICT to its best effect in the classroom is not without challenge Schools can invest in the latest ICT kit (for example iPads and Virtual Reality) but without the right support to embed these into the curriculum, the equipment and


. investment is likely to be underutilised.


Putting the right technology in place to support learning, rather than making learning work around technology, will enable schools to achieve a higher level of ICT delivery and support while keeping costs down.


Moving to the c oud Moving to the cloudl


By moving to the cloud and being ‘server-free’ schools can save money, increase scalability and improve collaboration between teachers, students and office staff. Google’s G Suite for Education andMicrosoft’s Office 365 are both free and have similar feature sets which are regularly updated. Both can be easily integrated with existing on-site technology and schools won’t need to purchase hardware to host an Exchange server. These platforms can also replace expensive Virtual Learning Environments. Cloud packages tend to be purchased via annual subscription rather than a large capital spend every 3-5 years. This gives schools greater visibility of ICT spend each year, without the worry of peaks in capital expenditure .


ICT support acrossMATs ICT support across MATs AT


The recent report from the British Education Suppliers Association (BESA) on the procurement landscape forMulti-Academy Trusts (MATs) shows that 51%ofMATs have centralised the procurement of ICT equipment and services; the second most commonly centralised service after utilities. Part of the reason for this is that ICT represents a large proportion of aMAT’s expenditure but used effectively technology can saveMATs money and deliver improved teaching and learning.MATs are in a unique positio cale, centralised services and procure


to negotiate t h economies of s


ment strategies n to use


e best value for money services to meet their needs. Conduct security audits Conduct security audits


An annual IT security review by an outside source is advisable. There has been a great deal of media coverage on the increase in GDPR fines in education, yet according to a survey by Probrand.co.uk, the majority of the education sector failed to wipe the data from decommissioned IT equipment in the two months following the instruction of GDPR.


Schools hold personal and often sensitive information which means they may be a potential target for ransomware and malware attacks. ICT security audits are important to ensure correct procedures ar e in place to avoid data leaks and fines.


Choosing the right ICT provider Choosing the right ICT provider


There are many ways in which schools andMATs can analyse ICT costs to identify potential savings. Start by conducting an internal IT audit to see all ICT touchpoints – from the office environments through to classrooms – and talk to staff to find out what works well.When researching IT providers, draw up a com each company can offer and use this offers the best value for the specific


which provider showing what


Apri l 2019 2019


requirements. to work out parison


VIEWS & OPINIO N


The power of animal t herapy for children


Comment by DAMON CULBERT, Supporting child


ren through complex Wild Science


situations and over developmental hurdles often requires a multi-faceted approach, tackling everything from the environment to the equipment. Animal therapy is rapidly growing in popularity in schools across the UK as teachers aim to use our love of four legged friends to improve children’s wellbeing. But wha t are the real benefits of animal therapy and how can it be used ?


Children with behavioural disorders Childrenwith behavioural disorders


For children with behavioural disorders such as ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) or ADHD, building relationships with peers and adults can be challenging and can seriously disrupt learning. By building relationship with animals such as therapy dogs, adults can sometimes circumvent the challenges of supporting children with ODD, enabling them to trust the animal first before developing trust with the therapist or teacher.


For children with ADHD, animal therapy has been proven to promote memory function, helping improve focus and self- confidence in class. The mere interaction with an animal also provides tactile stimulation which can help to reduce levels of stress and anxiety often experience by children with ADHD. Providing children with interactive methods to regulate their emotions will lend i tself to a more comfortable classroom experience .


Childrenwith SEN Children with SEN


Animal therapy has often been hailed for its ability to support children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Reading dogs can be useful in encouraging non-verbal children to communicate both verbally and non-verbally in an environment where they feel safe. The act of stroking an animal also releases oxytocin and decreases cortisol, which can help stabilise children during heightened periods of stress or meltdowns.


Children with physical disabilities can greatly benefit from interaction with therapy animals as well. Brushing, stroking and feeding animals can help children develop their fine motor skills. Being tasked with walking a dog can help get children involved with physical exercise which can be beneficial for children wit h cerebral palsy .


Chi Children’s mental healthldren’smental health


Overall, the ability of animals to improve children’s mental health is a significant part of their appeal in schools. Animal therapist Professor Cynthia Chandler believes that the way in which animals are able to promote production of oxytocin, one of the most powerful social hormones we produce, makes them great help for struggling children.


Regular interaction with an animal, both alone and in a group can help children understand more subtle emotional cues. Animals like dogs and horses are less likely to interact if they detect stress or ssion in children, encouraging them to regulate their ons before engaging with the anima l .


emot i aggre


Why animal therapy? Why animal therapy?


At a time where poor mental health among children seems to be reaching a crisis, comfort from an animal friend could help children understand their emotions from an early age and be beneficial throughout their lives.


Not all dogs, cats or horses can be therapy animals but training an animal could be something to consider which children will love and can help them reach practical, observa academically and emotionally.


www. wwweducation-toda y.co.uk


.co.uk 12 ble targets both


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