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Editor's comment

The inspectorate's take on the state of ICT in schools and other areas of education is measured, as ever (p4). The particular measure which Graham Donaldson, the senior chief inspector, has chosen this time is one of a glass "half-full, not half-empty". His colleagues have drawn together a progress report and, inevitably, they report pro"gress rather than achievement. There is certainly some evidence of improvement in how technology is pervading teaching, whether measured by investment, use or impact.

But there are complex inter-relationships here, and the report makes a good point that teacher confidence in using ICT is not just a matter of competence: if breakdowns are frequent and technical support poor, why bother trying to use the technology imaginatively and effectively when, in effect, it becomes a burden in the classroom rather than enabling high-quality teaching to take place?

It is not clear whether these factors explain why as many as nine teachers in a large secondary and one or two in a typical primary make very little use of ICT. Teacher confidence is also bound up with "generation-itis", which should become less of an issue as young blood courses through the profession.

In the final analysis, however, the whole point of ICT in learning is not about grappling with the technology, but making teaching more effective and, therefore, learning more stimulating. There has to be evidence of educational gain, as HMIE puts it. In that context, Mr Donaldson's measure is not the confident "half-full glass" but the more cautious one of being "only at the foothills".

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