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ICT in schools


Guest Andrew Moore
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Guest Andrew Moore

Hello, everyone.

I'm posting a press release from the UK's Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) reporting (fairly, I think) on the impact of ICT in schools in England.

ICT resources at record levels in schools, says Ofsted

Information and Communication Technology resources in schools are now at record levels and the competence of school staff in ICT has risen dramatically since 1997, according to a new report published today by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted).

ICT in schools: the impact of Government initiatives five years on, examines the impact the Government’s ICT strategy for schools has had since it was introduced in 1997. The strategy includes a number of initiatives designed to encourage the widespread use of ICT in teaching and learning.

Inspectors found that the combined impact of the Government’s initiatives for ICT in schools has been significant with resources in English schools now comparing very well with other countries.

More than 90% of teachers observed were competent users of ICT. The incidence of effective application of ICT in lessons across subjects is increasing slowly but steadily. The impact of ICT on teaching was satisfactory or better in 77% of the schools visited, a slight improvement since the last report. The quality of teaching in lessons where ICT is used has also improved, with 59% of lessons rated good or better.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, David Bell, said: "ICT resources in schools are now at record levels and comparing well with other countries. This is a great achievement that is reaping benefits for pupils and school staff.

"The positive impact of financial support from the Government has been noticeable mainly in staff confidence, record resource levels and improvements in pupils’ ICT capabilities."

Despite the overall positive picture, the report found that the Government’s aim that ICT should become embedded in the curriculum is still only a reality in a small number of schools. Pupils’ ICT experiences across the curriculum are sporadic and teacher-dependent and in many schools opportunities to exploit the technology across all subjects are lost on a daily basis.

Continuing professional development in ICT has also proved to be a cause of severe disappointment for schools and individual teachers. The National Lottery’s New Opportunities Fund (NOF) programme of in-service training for teachers and school librarians was over-ambitious and did not take sufficient account of teachers’ and schools’ current needs. The need for competence with the technology drove the training rather than implications of the use of ICT for learning.

The report found that at a national level there is a need to:

strengthen the focus of all aspects of support on ICT’s contribution to improving teaching, learning and standards for all pupils;

ensure that the expertise that exists in subject, phase and professional

associations continues to be bought to bear on aspects of training and other support for schools;

continue to earmark funding for ICT resources in schools, including laptops for teachers.

At Local Education Authority (LEA) and regional level there is a need to:

seek further ways of embedding the understanding and planning of ICT across aspects of support aimed at improving standards;

move the support for broadband from its focus on infrastructure to one that ensures its effective use.

At a school level there is a need to:

develop approaches to evaluating the impact of ICT at different levels in schools so that staff are confident to assess its influence on teaching and learning;

develop electronic portfolios of pupils’ work so that assessed work can be easily accessed by teachers, pupils and parents;

ensure that adequate technical support is included as an essential element of planning for ICT and that this is central to the school’s ICT strategy.

David Bell said: "What the Government, LEAs and schools must now focus on doing is ensuring that the quality, diversity and extent of pupils’ ICT experiences is consistent across all schools."

The report also includes several separate subject reports examining the impact of the Government initiatives on the curriculum subjects.

1. The report, ICT in schools: the impact of Government initiatives five years on HMI: 2050 and the subject reports are available on the Ofsted web site.

2. The report draws on evidence mainly from visits to schools, local education authorities (LEAs) and regional broadband consortia (RBCs) by Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) and additional inspectors recruited by Ofsted. Other evidence comes from Ofsted’s regular section 10 programme of school inspections and from LEA inspections. Between April 2002 and December 2003, inspectors visited 323 departments in secondary schools, 106 primary schools and 45 special schools, mostly for one day each. They also visited six LEAs in relation to their support for ICT, involving a total of 50 half-day school visits and interviews with senior LEA officers. Visits were also made to four of the eleven consortia, involving an additional 24 school visits.

I think there is a great opportunity for many of the members of this forum to help learners in England, while helping ourselves:

Despite the overall positive picture, the report found that the Government’s aim that ICT should become embedded in the curriculum is still only a reality in a small number of schools. Pupils’ ICT experiences across the curriculum are sporadic and teacher-dependent and in many schools opportunities to exploit the technology across all subjects are lost on a daily basis.

The press release is at www.ofsted.gov.uk/news/index.cfm?fuseaction=news.details&id=1555

The full report is available as a PDF at www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications/index.cfm?fuseaction=pubs.displayfile&id=3652&type=pdf

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It is certainly true that huge amounts of money have been spent in schools to provide ICT equipment and training over the last five years or so. I have to agree that that this bit from the report Andrew quotes is very pertinent:

Despite the overall positive picture, the report found that the Government’s aim that ICT should become embedded in the curriculum is still only a reality in a small number of schools.

There are vast numbers of teachers (of all ages!) who are still only at the very basic level of competence in their use of ICT. In my experience they lack interest in many cases, but also lack confidence and the time to improve their skills. If they are not confident they will not attempt to use ICT in a classroom situation as many of their pupils will already be more competent than they are themselves.

The National Lottery’s New Opportunities Fund (NOF) programme of in-service training for teachers and school librarians was over-ambitious and did not take sufficient account of teachers’ and schools’ current needs. The need for competence with the technology drove the training rather than implications of the use of ICT for learning

How true! So much money was wasted with the NOF scheme because no-one thought to work closely enough with practising teachers.

"What the Government, LEAs and schools must now focus on doing is ensuring that the quality, diversity and extent of pupils’ ICT experiences is consistent across all schools."

Yes. They also need to ensure that there is sufficient funding to update and re-equip schools with up-to-the-minute ICT equipment, capable of running modern software applications!. Many of the students have more up-to-date stuff than their school - how is that going to improve their ICT skills or experiences? ;)

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IT is a source of great awe and wonder. It is a source of fun. It is a means of communicating with other pupils all over the world. It provides access to a world of information. It allows you to express yourself creatively and to talk to the world through your own webpage, creating new knowledge as well as sharing.

None of this is understood by the government. On the contrary. To the government IT is training for work, a means to promote Microsoft, a way to bore the a** off every student.

The only way the program of study can be of use is if teachers subvert (sorry "adapt creatively") to match the needs of their pupils.

And YOY did they have to change the name to ICT so email partners across the world do not know what my form are talking about?

Derek McMillan

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