In January 2001, my colleague Susan Buchanan and I were seconded from our class teacher posts for two years to be information and communications technology officers for East Dunbartonshire. Our remit was simple: to promote the use of ICT within the curriculum and develop staff skills using unfamiliar software installed on new computers.
The authority had recently changed over all its 36 primary schools from Apple Macs to RM Window Box computers. The schools were networked and all but one had an ICT suite. However, teaching staff were unfamiliar with the new software.
A training centre was established in Kirkintilloch with nine PCs, an interactive whiteboard and an adjoining office. This was our base for the secondment.
Over 23 months, courses were run for each of the RM Window Box applications. Training was delivered four days a week by one or other of us. We had written 18 manuals to provide staff with step-by-step instructions in using each of the applications, accompanied by screen shots. They covered all the ICT skills embedded in curricular ideas for use with pupils and could also be useful in reinforcing skills at a later date.
Responses to the courses were phenomenal. Staff loved them. Their evaluations praised the small groups, positive atmosphere and the idiot-proof manuals. The courses allowed plenty of hands-on experience, they could work at their own pace with the manuals and they could keep them.
More importantly, staff began using the manuals with pupils when they returned to school. This was crucial. Whereas before staff were simply teaching ICT skills, now ICT was being acknowledged as a method of supporting the curriculum.
Schools were asking for more courses, so we decided to run some in schools using their ICT suites. While Susan held a course in the training centre, I could be delivering one in a school.
We were fully booked every week. On average more than 50 members of staff attended our courses each week.
Being able to work with so many staff was fantastic. They desperately wanted ICT programmes of study based on the format of our training manuals.
So, we wrote one that supported the most commonly used environmental studies topics and covered all of the 5-14 level A-D ICT skills. We created 16 packs, four for each level. Topics included myself, houses and homes at level A, the Egyptians and the Romans at level B, the Vikings and the Victorians at level C and the Second World War and Europe at level D.
During the last year we also created a maths programme.
The training programme was a terrific success. Since returning to our posts in January, we are still providing after-school training and, in my Kirkintilloch school at least, I can vouch that ICT is an integral part of the curriculum.
Vicky Parfect teaches at Lairdsland Primary, East Dunbartonshire