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Hang Ups

Of course, life is tough for today's teachers. The barbarians, if not exactly at the school gates, are likely to be on the board of governors. Teachers of every subject face cut-backs, crises and chaos except, that is, for the information technology co-ordinator. She, in comparison, leads the life of Riley.

While her colleagues are using these last few weeks of this term to organise for the rigours of the academic year to come, this Riley de nos jours is probably tuning in one of the many monitors in her recently refurbished computer suite to BBC1 in readiness for two relaxing weeks of Wimbledon. She's on to a winner, and she knows it. Parents, pupils, pundits and politicians are all agreed that IT capability "the new literacy" is of crucial importance. What's more, not only have the national curriculum requirements for IT been slimmed down to a few cheerful generalities, but Ms Riley can rely on her colleagues in other departments to do most of the teaching for her. All she has to do is dish out to the various departments the latest set of booklets from the National Council for Educational Technology. Each of the titles in Approaches to IT Capability, Key Stage 3 covers the key stage 3 requirements for the subjects in the national curriculum, outlining how the new technology can be comfortably integrated into mainstream work. The booklets are eminently readable, jargon-free, and full of practical ideas. If your resident Ms Riley hasn't given you the one for your subject, wait for one of those inevitable lulls in play when a pigeon invades the court and then nag her for it.

She probably won't let you see the companion volume outlining her responsibilities a mere 24 pages of them. First, she has the simple task of ensuring that IT is taught across the curriculum. She only has to knock up a few charts, flow diagrams and matrices to tabulate who's teaching what, when, where and to whom. All that this involves is reading through every department's handbook; attending departmental meetings, and then fine tuning the charts, flow diagrams and matrices. It only takes a few more meetings (and a little more fine tuning) to guarantee that everyone agrees with the end result. While she's about it, Ms Riley can make short work of ensuring the IT element in every department's syllabus contains scope for progression, differentiation and continuity as well as a framework for assessment. As a mere formality, she has to check what's happening in classrooms actually corresponds to what's on paper, and have quiet words in the ears of colleagues on those rare occasions when they don't quite measure up to the government's high expectations.

All this is routine admin, so Ms Riley will welcome the opportunity to do some old-fashioned teaching and what could be more fun than devoting her spare time to teaching her colleagues? She can organise Inset days, one-to-one lessons, and an endless series of impromptu sessions over coffee, or while hurrying down corridors.

Then all that is left to do is hammer out a few plans for the future development of IT in the school; hold discussions with pupils on their experience of IT; bolster colleagues' confidence by sharing in team teaching or observing their lessons; "evaluate the educational value of new technologies"; develop links with IT co-ordinators in other schools; review software; disseminate information from the educational press, books and professional associations; attend seminars and report on them. And work out why the network's down, furnish the police with details of hardware nicked . . . and teach children. Which should leave her with plenty of time to watch the tennis.

Approaches to IT Capability, Key Stage 3 is distributed free to schools. Additional copies, Pounds 15, NCET, Milburn Hill Road, Science Park, Coventry CV4 7JJ.

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