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Awards that really hit the spot

It sounds tautological but journalists are conditioned to be constructively cynical. That's why we are always wary of awards. Where do they stop massaging the vanity of the sponsors and start appreciating the excellence of the entrants? For me however, Becta's ICT in Practice Awards (pp 8-17) have swiftly exceeded my expectations and got straight to some of the best classroom practice I have ever seen - and I'm not writing that because The TES is a sponsor, honest!

When politics enters the workplace it's usually a bad thing - worse when that workplace is a school - and there's never a guarantee of improvement at the end of the process. So it's sad, but understandable, that many teachers still think that coming to terms with ICT is merely complying with current education ideology. That's why it's wonderful to come across teachers who have the support of their schools to really kick away obstacles to learning, like Norman Johnston, in Fleming Fulton School, Belfast, and Ian Bean, at Priory Woods School, Middlesbrough. Not only are they creating opportunities for their students, they are taking their colleagues with them. And Cathy Dyson, at the Women's Electronic Village Hall in Manchester, is pioneering new ways of learning for women in the community. Even the runners-up (a term that doesn't do them justice) are terrific, like Simon Burrell who transformed his country primary school in Wiltshire, making his mark on county policy in the process.

It's also good to start getting a sense of a government appreciating teachers and the need to support them instead of using them as a scapegoat. It's important that these awards are run by a government agency, Becta, and it's warming to see genuine enthusiasm and support for them from the Department of Education and Skills. Here good practice means exactly what it says and is not just an element of a management mantra.

The challenge for us all now is to spread the message to other, less experienced teachers to share the good practice. There is no mystery - all of the practice is replicable. So, if you are one of those teachers, please kick off the stabilisers (only joking), get on your mouse and click your way to our website ( where we have the full text of all the articles on the winners and runners-up along with key teaching points from all of them (and nominate your ICT star).

Like schools taking up ICT across the curriculum, The TES is now incorporating ICT across all its coverage (see p3). TES Online is taking a month off for a slinky new operating system, hardware rebuild and content re-appraisal, followed by a clean reboot on April 26. Please get in touch with all your ideas and suggestions ( Thanks to all of you who have been logging on so far. We'll try not to disappoint you.

Merlin John, TES Online editor

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