A recent poll carried out for Becta, the schools technology agency, reports that while almost all parents believe ICT helps their children to learn, only one in five schools is using it effectively. So what can you do to make sure you are one of the 20 per cent? Use Becta's self-review framework, which looks at your ICT use in detail under eight headings, helping you to evaluate what you are doing and giving practical ideas for improvement. Try also Improve, a website that provides a more detailed look at the way you use ICT for management and leadership. It is produced by Capita, the business process outsourcing company, but is generally applicable whatever kind of management system you use. And, of course, it all feeds into the Ofsted self-evaluation process.
- www.becta.org.uk; www.dataforimprovement.co.uk
2. Investigate snooping law
If you have video cameras anywhere on site, check the legalities around surveillance. Many schools use CCTV during the school day as well as for overnight protection. Some schools, too, are now using cameras to monitor classes in progress, to help with discipline and staff development. Classwatch is just one supplier in this area. All this needs care. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has an article on its site by its solicitor, summarising the main issues.
- www.atl.org.uk; www.classwatch.co.uk
3. Support your chair of governors
It's a demanding job and there are times when the chair could do with some help - with Ofsted issues, for example, or tricky staffing problems. A new chair, in particular, can feel the pressure. So what can you do to help? For one thing you can find out what your local authority - or diocese, if that's appropriate - is doing to provide mentoring support for chairs. For a year, the National Governors' Association and the National Co-ordinators of Governor Services have been working on a set of guidance documents for setting up mentoring support schemes for chairs of governors. Just published, they contain some interesting ideas and case studies of existing innovative schemes, such as Surrey's advanced skills governors.
4. Liven up CPD
Do you involve different staff in delivering continuing professional development sessions? One Birmingham deputy head says, "To keep CPD lively, you need as many people as possible contributing to it, bringing variety and encouraging new thinking." Another deputy, from the same city, says, "The other night a newly qualified teacher led a twilight ICT session on using video editing software. We're trying to demonstrate that we can all learn from each other."
5. WOW! Dress up for a good cause
If you want an excuse for dressing (or dragging) up, you and your pupils could take part in World Orphan Week, February 4-10 (the run-up to half-term in many schools). You are invited to wear something "WOW!" in return for a donation to SOS Children's Villages, the world's biggest orphan charity, which cares for street children, Aids orphans, child soldiers and victims of natural disasters.
Send your contributions or suggestions for this column to Gerald Haigh, firstname.lastname@example.org.