5 Things to think about this week

Gerald Haigh

1. Evaluate the virtues of going virtual

Do some serious thinking about virtual learning environments (VLEs), especially in primary schools.

The Government says every school has to be up and running with online learning platforms by 2010, but according to the British Educational Suppliers Association's annual survey of ICT in schools, a quarter of primaries feel this isn't what they need.

Many "VLE refusers", far from being ICT luddites, are actually sophisticated users who have decided that, for now, there are alternative home-grown frameworks for learning.

The lesson? Don't be pushed. Take your time working out exactly what you need and how you want to get there.


2. Let pupils take over the asylum

On November 7, let the children run the place. That day is Children's Commissioner Sir Al Aynsley Green's 11 Million Takeover Day.

Last year, in some authorities, children shadowed senior local authority figures, for example, and acted as reporters and advisers.

This year seems like a good opportunity to go further at school level. There are certainly schools where the pupils are capable of organising themselves for a day, with appropriate health and safety adult supervision.


3. Consider 14-19 collaboration

If you're involved in a 14-19 partnership, read Ofsted's evaluation ("Implementation of 14-19 reforms") of progress so far. There's much that is positive, but the report also warns of slowness in developing systems to monitor pupil progress when studying away from the home institution: "much remains to be done to ensure that data are systematically analysed and evaluated to inform planning".

As suppliers of a data-sharing product, Capita has responded with a "white paper" that draws extensively on the experience of existing partnerships across the country.

www.ofsted.gov.uk; www.sims.co.uk14-19challenge

4. Take off for new planes of existence

Look at Futurelab's Million Futures website. It's a captivating way of engaging with six fundamental questions about future learning.

On the site, virtual paper planes soar above the clouds. Click on them to read other people's thoughts, and add your own.

It's a good way to launch your own ideas and, importantly, a stimulus for all sorts of work with children of any age group.


5. Give governance a good going over

Review the way you work with your governors. "Governing our Schools", a report from Business in the Community, has branded school governance "overloaded, overcomplicated and overlooked". The report recommends that businesses to do more to support employees in becoming governors.

It's a two-way process, though. If impatient heads sideline governors, recruitment is undermined. In the 1990s, following governor legislation and greater independence for schools, many local authorities worked specifically on the head-governor relationship, with conferences and courses. That impetus has been lost.

See next week's Leadership section for more on this.


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Gerald Haigh

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