Tired of the hours spent on paperwork, Geoff Broadbent, literacy co-ordinator at Lepton Church of England School in Huddersfield, and his brother Mal decided to develop a software program that would make life easier for teachers. The result is Literacy Complete, which Geoff reckons saves him three hours of planning a week.
Geoff spoke to his local education authority - Kirklees - about Literacy Complete. It was so impressed that about 80 local schools now have the program installed and the LEA is marketing it.
So what's so good about it? The main point is that Literacy Complete delivers what it promises and really does save teachers a great deal of time. It contains a database of all the national literacy objectives and, by using a simple drag-and-drop system, teachers can create lesson plans, organise literacy hour sessions and prepare reports for headteachers, school inspectors or parents.
Literacy Complete comes with an excellent instruction manual which clearly sets out the disc's contents and the way it can be used. Installation is simple, and you don't have to be a computer wizard to use it - the user interface is simple and there is plenty of on-screen help. The program is divided into five main areas: what is being taught, when, how and to which pupils and how performance is to be measured.
The first step involves setting up a study group. By clicking on an icon at the top of the screen, you can create individual pupil record "cards", which include the child's name, their national curriculum level and literacy objectives.
Clicking on the tabs at the top of a "pupil card" allows teachers to make general notes, check objectives and see the child's position on a learning curve.
After creating a study group, the next step is to set up the teaching topics (such as note taking or past tense) in the form of study units. Each topic includes a list of objectives which can be selected and dragged and dropped into a study unit window. The study units can then be dragged into a graphical planning window, which is in the form of a calendar. You can shorten or extend the length of each study unit by clicking on a toolbar.
The learning curve lets teachers compare a pupil's predicted progress with their actual performance, and enables teachers to change the work plan if required. The work plan can also be printed out, and a pupil's attainment can be logged and printed out as a report.
This program is a joy to use. There are no fancy graphics and no distracting animations: everything on screen is there for a purpose. Literacy Complete was designed for a specific problem and it solves it well.
Literacy Complete. CD-Rom for Windows PCs, pound;94 plus pamp;p. Kirklees LEA Skills Factory 01484 225793. www.skillsfactory.com