Even today, not all professionals are aware of this online treasure trove.
"We have found that while all teachers have seen and used our printed materials, many are not aware of our web-based resources," says Tony Knight, subject consultant in music, arts and culture at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA).
Over the years, numerous websites have been created by agencies such as the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the QCA, Ofsted and the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta). Now, as part of a high priority, department-wide programme, the DfES is examining how its web resources can be integrated to better serve the needs of the educational community, and particularly teachers. The programme will link with other agencies and providers of sites, helping everyone to reach out and find the material they need.
QCA's online resources link closely with the national curriculum and curriculum subjects. Its National Curriculum in Action site uses examples of pupils' work to exemplify the curriculum in practice, showing the standard of work at different ages and key stages, and demonstrating how programmes of study translate into activities. New to the site is ICT in Subject Teaching, which exemplifies statutory requirements and opportunities to employ ICT. The examples relate directly to the QCA's schemes of work, to be found on The Standards Site run by the DfES.
National Curriculum Online, also from QCA, maps every programme of study requirement to the materials listed on Curriculum Online, the flagship e-learning resources catalogue launched a year ago by the DfES. The catalogue takes in software, online services, lesson plans, assessment materials and interactive videos.
The QCA also has a collection of in-depth websites devoted to areas ranging from PE and school sports to education for sustainable development. The groundbreaking Arts Alive! uses case studies to demonstrate how the arts not only contribute to individual attainment, but also support school improvement and help forge closer links with the community. "For the first time, there has been a systematic analysis of what it is that makes the difference," says Tony Knight. An exercise to re-design QCA's web presence is under way, and should raise the profile of all the authority's resources.
Ofsted's online support for teachers continues to focus on themed reports drawn from inspection evidence, and there is increasing emphasis on providing ideas and examples of best practice. This year's ICT in Schools report, due out in March, will provide in-depth coverage of the use of ICT in each subject, and feature case studies of good practice, some gathered specially for the report. Ofsted's annual report, with annexes for each primary and secondary subject, will be published in February.
The DfES is currently working on a re-vamped Curriculum Online. Teachers will now be able to narrow down their searches more quickly, and search only for material which is free. In future, Curriculum Online will feature more resources from cultural organisations such as museums and galleries.
And it will include materials from the BBC's Digital Curriculum, the free online learning service due to be launched in 2006. The DfES Teachernet site helps schools translate educational policy into practice, and includes a Teaching and Learning section offering 2000 lesson plans and a new database of school case studies.
Becta's ICT Advice fields a range of online mentors and experts to advise on applying ICT in teaching and learning. Its New2Computers section helps with the development of ICT skills, and Ask an Expert highlights effective practice in a different area of the curriculum each month. The site hosts a chat room and an online community of ICT co-ordinators, with more communities planned. Future emphasis will be on providing support for ICT-related policy initiatives, such as the drive to embed ICT in the primary curriculum as part of the Primary Strategy.
Becta also runs the National Grid for Learning site, where teachers can search for links to educational websites, and the Virtual Teacher Centre, offering a news service and support for professional development. Becta's research area reports on the organisation's research findings, and a wide-ranging Inclusion website includes a catalogue of software, equipment and online publications.
Main site: www.qca.org.uk
National Curriculum in Action: www.ncaction.org.uk
National Curriculum Online: www.nc.uk.net
www.qca.org.ukartsalive Education for Sustainable Development: www.nc.uk.netesdindex.html
Innovating with Geography: www.qca.org.ukgeographyindex.htm
World Class Tests: www.worldclassarena.orgv5default.htm
14 - 19 Learning www.qca.org.uk14-19index.html
Assessment for Learning: www.qca.org.ukca5-14afl PE and School Sports (PESS): www.qca.org.ukpessindex.asp Swimming and Water Safety: www.nc.uk.netsafeswimmingindex.htm
Ofsted Main site: www.ofsted.gov.uk
Reports: www.ofsted.gov.ukpublications DfES Main site: www.dfes.gov.uk
Curriculum Online: www.curriculumonline.gov.uk
The Standards Site: www.standards.dfes.gov.uk
Becta Main site: www.becta.org.uk
ICT Advice: www.ictadvice.org.uk
National Grid for Learning: www.ngfl.gov.uk
Virtual Teacher Centre: http:vtc.ngfl.gov.uk
Research: www.becta.org.ukresearch Inclusion: http:inclusion.ngfl.gov.uk