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As budgets continue to be stretched, we know that any opportunity to save some money will be welcomed. In case you missed it last week, the DfE released news of a new scheme that’s being launched to help schools, academies and other publicly funded educational institutions to save money when buying tablets, laptops and desktop computers. The idea is that by aggregating orders, there are large cost savings to be had from suppliers with the government asserting that this could save schools “thousands of pounds”. More details on how you can get involved can be found at the end of this blog.

We know that one area of investment that many of you would consider to be of real benefit is tablet computers. In our survey that we carried out last summer*, we found that a significant proportion of teachers are already using tablets to support their work in schools for admin and teaching purposes.

38% of respondents said that all of their staff used tablets for admin and teaching, with a further 10% saying more than half of their staff have tablets for this purpose.

It also highlighted that there are a number of teachers who aren’t currently using tablets at all. When we asked about plans for the future, almost half of respondents told us that they were “definitely” interested in using more tablets, which is why we thought it was important to make sure that this new scheme was brought to your attention!

When we talk to Classroom Monitor users who are already using tablets in the classroom, they tell us one of the key benefits is that they bring the formative assessment process into the classroom rather than it needing to be an additional task that teachers carry out at a laptop or desktop at the end of a long day/month/half term. The Classroom Monitor app has been welcomed by a huge proportion of our customers as a way of reducing their workload for this reason. Assessments and various forms of evidence (photos, sound clips, video clips, etc) can be captured on the tablet and then automatically synced to a Classroom Monitor account.

The tablets that are being offered as part of the DfE’s new scheme are various models of Apple iPad, Microsoft Surface Pro and LearnPads. If you are considering purchasing any of these types of tablet then you could save up to 30% of the price that you were expecting to pay based on the results of the pilot scheme. As an example, their indicative price for the lowest spec of iPad Mini 4 is £312 (ex VAT).

So which one should you choose? We recommend that you have a think about what you want to use it for and do your research to find out which one is going to meet your particular needs (and budget) the best. It’s also worth considering whether another tablet not covered by the scheme may fit your requirements at a better price; there are a large variety of low-cost Android tablets available that may meet many school’s needs.

If your school uses Classroom Monitor then you might want to factor this into your decision about which tablet to choose.

  • The Classroom Monitor app is available for any Android or Apple device. In terms of the DfE scheme, this would mean that it will be available to download on either the LearnPads or the iPads.
  • For devices running other operating systems, Classroom Monitor will be accessible via the browser. So in terms of the DfE scheme, if you went for the Microsoft Surface Pros, then you would use the tablet-friendly markbooks to make assessments and record evidence in Classroom Monitor.

If you are interested in the DfE computing procurement scheme then more information can be found on the page that guides you through the process. You haven’t got long to think about it as customer requirements need to be submitted by February 10th with orders beginning to be made in April.

*Survey conducted July 2016, over 300 respondents

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