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Diverse range of skills from awards shortlist

Teddy bear exchanges between primary schools across the globe are popular.

And teddy bears running wild was one feature of this year's ICT in Practice Awards, run by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) and supported by The TES, Pearsons and BT.

Scottie, who was sent from Stirling to Wiscasset in Maine, was photographed betraying his roots by going into a polling booth to vote for George Bush.

Worse still, Baxter, the American bear in Stirling, has recently taken up with a young girl trapeze artist who was attending school as the Russian State Circus toured the Stirling area. They have gone off together around Europe.

Wayward emailing bears are just one activity that has emerged as judges worked on the awards shortlist last month. Their purpose is to uncover and celebrate exemplary work that is going on across the UK and to use this to promote good practice in ICT in teaching, learning and leadership. Each award winner will receive pound;2,500, with an additional pound;2,500 going to his or her school or organisation. Each runner-up will receive pound;500, with an additional pound;500 going to their school or organisation.

Entries closed in July, the short list was drawn up in August and people were visited in September and October. The finalists will be interviewed later this month and the awards presented at the BETT 2004 technology show at Olympia, London, in January.

This year, the awards' fourth, there have been more entries than ever and the range of work is broader, largely because of the two new categories: new to teaching (sponsored by The TES) and learning assistants.

Already it is possible to see new avenues opening. One LEA is working with a commercial company to develop software to help with the difficult area of assisting the transition of ICT work between schools. Work like that could have an impact nationally. Managing ICT in the classroom is still the crucial question, especially when teachers are expected to embed ICT into subject teaching.

One school has done a detailed study of microscopy in the primary classroom, comparing the easily available, inexpensive digital microscopes with the more expensive versions. Does the extra expense get correspondingly better results? Does digital video have an impact on problem solving in a special school? How has a boy who has cerebral palsy developed his skills to such an extent that he has gained an A* in Art GCSE this year? How have NQT's adjusted to the realities of the classroom? What are good models for ICT assistants? Does CCTV in classrooms have a role to play?

You can find out more about the awards and download case studies of winners by going to the Becta website, clicking on "About Becta", then "awards" and then "ICT in Practice Awards".

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