Meet the Team: Ed Fairfield, Commercial Manager

What is your role at Elementary Technology?

I am Commercial Manager at Elementary Technology. It’s my responsibility to understand the education sector and find ways to make sure we’re the supplier of choice when schools are exploring how to make the most of their technology.

I do lots of listening and learning with schools – it’s essential we understand what schools’ challenges are, what they want and need and aspire to. Only then can we step in to help.

My role as Vice-Chair at Naace really helps here – Naace is a charity dedicated to supporting schools with their technology. Ditto in my role as a Governor at a fabulous primary school in Wakefield. All these different perspectives help me understand what support schools need, over and above just supplying tech.

Ed Fairfield is a governor overseeing ICT development at Pinders Primary School!

How do you help schools with EdTech?

Schools, and all those who work in them, are incredibly busy. They have massively competing demands on their time and headspace. To add to this, within schools and Multi-Academy Trusts there can sometimes be differing, even conflicting priorities. A good example of this is teachers want bespoke tech designed for their class, yet ICT functions in education need standardisation.

It’s my job and that of Elementary Technology to understand all this, and then to provide technology and services which work for everyone. From procurement planning services like our Classroom Healthcheck to accessible CPD platforms like Get Set Go. Schools are busy enough! Technology needs to help streamline and supercharge, not be a pain in the rear end!

What’s your favourite part of the job?

The best part of my job is seeing what we do be helpful! To see eyes light up when teachers use their tech, to see measurable outcomes with pupils, and weights lift off the shoulders of ICT Directors when they fully understand ‘where they are now’ with technology across their Trust. It’s magic!

What’s your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge as a supplier is building trust with schools, who understandably have guards up because they don’t want to be ‘sold to’. For various reasons suppliers into schools can have a bad rep for being salesy, focused on winning a deal and too inclined to ‘hang it and bang it’, rather than providing the support schools need to excel. Building trust takes time and can’t be done using things like mass emails and repeated phone calls. But at the same time, we can’t just expect schools to drop what they’re doing and have a long chat about things! It’s tricky, but we’re getting there and have a long list of success stories to show it.

What is your favourite piece of EdTech?

In terms of hardware, it’s got to be a visualiser! High impact, low budget and also nice and easy to get up and running. Plug it in, switch it on and you have a tool to help reduce your workload, involve pupils in learning, record, showcase, show best practice, share and lots more. It’s a winner for me! The good news is, we supply hundreds of them to schools each and every month. All with support so they get properly used, and opportunities for more training and CPD over time. Too often, more portable technology like this can end up in the ICT Cupboard of Doom.

The powerful Aver M17-13M Visualiser

If you could give one piece of advice to a teacher using EdTech for the first time, what would it be?

Speak to peers who already use the technology successfully. This could be colleagues in your school, perhaps EdTech Demo Schools such as EdTech Sheff, a shout out on social media or sometimes a good supplier can put you in touch with success stories.

It avoids that initial phase of getting your head around things. Get the tips and tricks you need – a kickstart toward being a power user. Then pay it forward and share your skills with others.

What do you get up to outside of work?

I’m a family man which keeps me busy! When I’m not doing kids clubs or mowing the lawn, I’m usually found out with mates in front of a lamb jalfrezi and a few beers.

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