Schools at risk of ‘critical data loss’ warns DfE report

A significant number of schools may be vulnerable to losing critical data due to the storage systems they use, according to a report commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE). The Education Technology (EdTech) Survey 2020-21 was carried out on behalf of the DfE by CooperGibson Research. As part of the research they undertook more than 2500 online surveys with headteachers and staff from 1012 schools. They found 18 per cent of all schools either did not retain offline backups of critical data or were unable to answer as to whether they did. Of these more than half were using only some form of on-site storage system for their critical data. Such arrangements could leave schools ‘vulnerable to critical data loss’ the report says.

Most schools surveyed used a mixture of cloud-based and on-site storage and systems, and cited benefits from using cloud based systems such as greater collaboration and communication between staff, and easier cross-site working. However schools also reported barriers to more fully-implementing cloud-based storage and systems, with the most commonly cited one being affordability. 74 per cent of schools cited affordability as a barrier, including 39 per cent who felt it was a ‘big barrier’. Other perceived barriers included the time required to migrate to the cloud, security concerns and uncertainty around procurement guidance.

The report suggests there is an opportunity to further support schools to move their storage and systems to the cloud and many, especially secondary schools, already have plans to do so. In particular the authors call for consideration to be given as to how the DfE can play a greater role in developing guidance and supporting schools to overcome the barriers which have been identified.

The full report, which also examines perceptions of the impact of educational technology on workload and pupil attainment, as well as remote education and schools’ response to the coronavirus pandemic, can be accessed here: https://tinyurl.com/ju2fz47n

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