IT Support

All you need to know about IT support for schools and the education sector

In this guide, we'll dive into IT support for schools and the education sector, exploring the unique challenges and benefits, and how to choose the ideal support services. From tackling technological obstacles to embracing cutting-edge trends, we provide insights on maximising IT support and technology for educational success.
A photo of Ian Welch, who is a partner & technical director for Network

Written by

Ian Welch

Ian is the Technical Director @ Network and a certified ethical hacker (CEH), security professional (CISSP) and ISO27001 lead implementer with over 25 years experience.

Updated on

May 3, 2024

A school teacher holding a tablet computer with students on computers in the background

Before we dive in

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Key Takeaways

  1. Specialised IT support for schools is essential for navigating unique technological challenges and enhancing educational experiences.
  2. Cutting-edge IT innovations like AI-enabled learning and gamification are transforming UK education, offering more personalised and efficient teaching methods.
  3. Choosing the right IT support service is crucial for schools to ensure effective technology integration, enhanced data security, and streamlined administrative processes.

What is the role of IT support in the education sector?

With technology at the heart of learning and administration in schools, the role of school IT support has expanded beyond just fixing technical issues. It’s about enhancing the educational experience for both students and teachers.

High-quality IT support for schools goes a step further than typical support services. It offers a bespoke approach tailored to meet the unique needs of educational institutions. This includes primary and secondary schools, where IT infrastructure plays a crucial role in day-to-day learning and administration. By outsourcing IT support services, schools can enjoy the benefits of expert service without the operational costs and complexities of an in-house team.

The importance of IT support for schools

In the context of educational institutions, outsourcing IT and support services is not just a convenience; it's a strategic necessity. This approach is not only about addressing immediate technical concerns but also proactively managing and upgrading IT infrastructure to meet future educational demands.

Effective IT support for schools involves a comprehensive understanding of the challenges unique to the education sector. This includes safeguarding against cyber threats, ensuring consistent cyber security, and maintaining robust IT systems that can support diverse educational needs. By partnering with a managed service provider, schools can focus on their primary goal – education – while leaving the complexities of IT management to experts.

This strategic choice empowers schools with the agility to adapt to new technological advancements and the resilience to withstand serious cyber security threats, all while managing costs effectively. It's a decision that not only streamlines day-to-day operations but also significantly contributes to the overall educational experience and success.

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Do these technology challenges sound familiar to your business?

You're working with IT support that moves at a snail's pace, leaving you and your team hanging.

You’re worried your business is not fully prepared for the next major cyber attack.

You're frustrated that the business technology you've invested in isn't performing as well as it could be.

What challenges do schools and the education sector face?

Schools face unique challenges that impact the effectiveness of their IT system, infrastructure and support services. These challenges not only affect day-to-day operations but also the strategic planning and execution of educational goals. Let's delve into the key issues facing schools today:

Funding and budget constraints

UK schools are increasingly aware of the financial pressures impacting their operations. Tight budgets are forcing many schools to make difficult decisions regarding staffing, resources, and technology investments. This scenario is exacerbated by rising costs, such as utility bills, and the current cost-of-living crisis affecting families, which indirectly impacts schools​.

IT infrastructure and maintenance

Schools in the UK are often challenged with keeping up with the latest technological updates and upgrades. This issue is compounded by outdated and unmanaged equipment, resulting in unreliable connectivity, increased security risks, and potential data loss. Specific problems include:

  • Capacity, access, and performance issues that slow staff and student productivity due to outdated or poorly maintained technology.
  • Gradual decline due to lack of investment in infrastructure, often leading to IT emergencies​.
  • Poor integration between infrastructure components results in decreased productivity, and security risks​.

Scalability and adaptability

With the increasing use of IT in educational settings, schools face the challenge of ensuring their IT environment is scalable and adaptable to future needs. This includes managing the capacity of their internet, servers, and networks to provide support for the growing demands of staff and students​.

Data storage and remote learning support

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated IT adoption in schools, highlighting the need for robust cloud solutions and remote support. The widespread use of video conferencing platforms and cloud storage solutions has put additional pressure on networks and internet connections that are already at capacity. Schools now face the challenge of ensuring these resources are readily available and reliable for both in-school and remote learning environments​.

Cybersecurity and data security

As schools increasingly rely on digital platforms and tools, maintaining data security becomes a critical challenge. Implementing advanced cybersecurity and managed IT services has become a priority.

Addressing all of these challenges requires a multifaceted approach that includes strategic investment in technology and fostering a partnership with an IT support provider or service that can offer technical expertise and ongoing support. By tackling these issues head-on, primary schools, secondary schools, universities and all other educational institutions can ensure they are equipped to provide a high-quality, secure, and efficient learning environment for all their users.

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What are the benefits of specialised IT support for schools?

Specialised IT support for schools brings a range of benefits tailored to meet the unique needs of educational institutions. These advantages help schools navigate the complexities of modern education technology, ensuring a reliable and effective learning environment:

  1. Tailored technical solutions: Specialised support services ensure that the right technical solutions are deployed to meet the specific needs of educational institutions, from primary schools to multi-academy trusts.
  2. Enhanced data security: With education organisations handling sensitive data, specialised IT support plays a crucial role in maintaining data security, safeguarding student and staff information.
  3. Effective technology integration: Support providers work closely with schools to integrate effective technology solutions, enhancing teaching and learning experiences.
  4. Dedicated technical support: Technical support teams offer ongoing support and technical assistance, ensuring that any issues with IT systems are promptly addressed.
  5. Customised support packages: Educational institutions benefit from support packages specifically designed for their needs, offering flexibility and scalability.
  6. Proactive network management: Specialised IT support involves proactive network management, ensuring school networks are reliable and optimised for performance.
  7. Ongoing management and maintenance: Continuous monitoring and ongoing management of IT systems prevent issues before they escalate, reducing downtime and disruptions.
  8. Expertise in education technology: Specialised providers possess deep knowledge of education technology, differentiating their service from those catering to other business sectors.
  9. Accessible support desk: A dedicated support desk offers easy access to help when schools need it, enhancing the overall efficiency of school operations.
  10. Partnership approach: Working closely with schools, specialised IT support providers help develop and implement long-term strategies for leveraging technology in education.

These benefits highlight how specialised IT support can transform the technological landscape of an educational institution, paving the way for a more efficient, secure, and innovative learning environment.

Selecting the right IT support services for your school

When choosing an IT support service for your school, it's crucial to consider various factors to ensure you select a service that aligns with your specific needs. Here's a list of key aspects to look for:

  1. Cost-Effective Solutions: Ensure the provider offers cost-effective services that deliver value without compromising quality.
  2. Expertise in ICT Support: Look for a provider with proven expertise in ICT support, particularly in educational settings.
  3. Effective Network Maintenance: The provider should offer comprehensive network maintenance to ensure your school's network, including wireless networks, runs smoothly and securely.
  4. Dedicated Support Team: A dedicated team should be available for both on-site and remote support, addressing technical problems promptly.
  5. Reliable Internet Connection Management: The service should ensure a consistent and fast internet connection, vital for digital learning.
  6. Software Issue Resolution: The provider should be adept at resolving software issues, including those related to interactive whiteboards and other educational technologies.
  7. Data Backup and Protection: Data backup and data protection services are critical for safeguarding school data against cyber attacks and other threats.
  8. Adaptability to New Technologies: The IT support service should be proficient in integrating and managing new technologies as they emerge.
  9. Insight and Guidance: Look for a provider that can offer valuable insights and guidance on managing and enhancing your school's IT systems.
  10. Support for New Projects: The provider should be capable of supporting new projects and initiatives, aligning with your school's long-term goals.
  11. Comprehensive Service Range: A comprehensive range of services, from technical support to managing in-house IT systems, ensures all your IT needs are covered.

By considering these factors, you can select an IT support service that not only solves immediate technical issues but also strategically contributes to the overall technological advancement and efficiency of your school.

Innovative IT trends for schools and educational institutions

The landscape of educational technology in UK schools is rapidly evolving with several cutting-edge innovations:

  1. AI-enabled remote self-learning: AI technology is revolutionising traditional learning models by enabling more sophisticated remote learning. This allows for personalised education experiences, where AI helps students identify and develop their learning needs in real-time​.
  2. Gamification and bite-size learning: The trend towards gamification and nano learning caters to shorter attention spans. Platforms like Duolingo use short, interactive modules to enhance learning, making education more engaging and adaptable to modern lifestyles​.
  3. Streamlining through automation: Automating administrative tasks in education is on the rise. This trend aims to reduce the burden on educational administrators, freeing up resources for more critical tasks and enhancing efficiency in educational institutions​.
  4. Addressing technical debt in education: There is a growing focus on refining and improving educational technologies that were rapidly developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. This involves revisiting and restructuring software to future-proof and streamline its effectiveness​.

These trends reflect a shift towards more personalised, efficient, and engaging educational experiences, leveraging the latest advancements in technology to enhance learning and administration in UK schools.

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Do the challenges and opportunities discussed resonate with your school or educational institution? How does IT support impact your educational environment and staff? We're eager to hear your experiences and insights. If you're seeking a new managed IT service for your organisation, our team is ready to assist. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you require our support or guidance.