Budgeting for educational technology

When the Principal chewed me out for having put in a purchase order for toner cartridges, I guessed that was probably not the best time to present to him my refurbishment plan which involved buying interactive whiteboards. The school was generous in its funding of ICT, but I had been given only a consumables budget, not a capital one. This made planning ahead almost impossible.

Although having to put a business case for large purchases makes sense, it isn’t efficient to have to do so for every large purchase. Much better, in my opinion, to be given a guaranteed income for a guaranteed number of years, even if the amount and the timescale are modest. Although it is harder to argue for such an arrangement at the moment, it does make sense even from a wider financial perspective, simply because having no investment budget leads to a bit of a problem when it comes to replacing a whole set of computers etc at the same time.

My ideal arrangement is probably where you have an ICT budget, and an opportunity to bid for, or to be given, extra sums of money if some becomes available. If you work in a the sort of school that is allowed to manage its own financial affairs but not to make a surplus at the end of the financial year, you can help the bursar out by offering to mop up any excess funds. I suggested this half-jokingly – but only half--  to the Principal of a financially independent school I worked for, and he agreed to the arrangement.

And with less money in the system now than there used to be, anything’s worth a try!