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If you've got it, flaunt it

We often view award schemes with a cynical eye. Too often they are vehicles for corporate vanity and branding. Next minute they are gone, forgotten and consequently not taken seriously. The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) ICT in Practice Awards (pp 40-41), sponsored by BT and supported by The TES are not like that, but I would say that wouldn't I?

These awards are our attempt to help reward teachers who have struggled in the face of difficult conditions to achieve excellent practice using computers with their children. And, just as important, all the interested parties have to disseminate the wealth of experience unearthed during the search for the award winners. Individually gifted they might be, but their success would not have come about without the backing of policy. In other words, their success can be replicated and we will be covering their achievements in detail in our February issue to spread the message as widely as possible.

So this year we have something important to bring to the premier educational technology event, BETT 2001, at Olympia, London. David Puttnam will be making the awards following his TES keynote speech on Thursday. Meanwhile, thanks to Becta, BT and all the inspiring teachers who have made the awards possible.

Politicians are suddenly listening, and ome are even admitting mistakes. There's an election in the offing, that's why. So now is the time to scrutinise what the different political parties are offering and how they have performed during the current administration (see pp 12-13).

As far as educational technology is concerned there is no doubting the commitment of the current government - the only arguments could be about implementation of its National Grid for Learning rather than the concept itself. Communications costs might not have beendriven down as far as they should have, and the national training scheme needs attention, and possibly an extension.

The Liberal Democrats have always been interested in educational ICT, but frankly don't have anything like the depth of strategy that Labour put in on the back of the Stevenson Report.

The Tories? Well, they're looking rather sad - not much more than: "We'll give schools the money and they can do what they want."

The pre-election period is always a good time to make demands, flex your muscles and exercise your democratic rights. But rather than draw up a wish list, maybe we should think differently and look at it from our children's point of view with the help of Professor Stephen Heppell's e-charter for children (p 10). It's an excellent focus.

Merlin John, editor of TES Online

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