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Management primary

Michael Moore is head of the 275-pupil Becket primary school in north Somerset. His is a story of strong leadership and improvement. When he arrived four and a half years ago, ICT was a weakness in the school. Last year, Ofsted said that ICT was a "significant strength" and "the school is justifiably proud of its innovative approach to ICT".

Starting from having almost no ICT provision, the school now has a 43-terminal network. "I've always had a personal interest in computers," says Michael. "I was playing with Sinclair Spectrums in the early days, and I could see the potential for children. I could also see the potential for making my job easier. When I came here the governors effectively got an ICT co-ordinator and a head at the same time."

In terms of helping his own work, he's made considerable progress, to the point where he will take a palmtop device, loaded with the appropriate school policy, to a heads' training session and modify it as the session proceeds.

"Then back in school I can email it around to the teachers who'll respond electronically. It means really that they have more time to teach, and they are getting their weekends back."

Schools that operate like this - with policies and documents in electronic form - find that, for example, the school development plan becomes a working document rather than something filed away for occasional attention. This principle extends to the publication of documents online for parents and others. "Every time we produce a document we put it on the website," he says.

For example, the school has a Supply Teachers' Handbook available on the website (www.becket.nsomerset.sch.uksupply) so that teachers coming to the school can prepare themselves in advance.

Another important step has been to put admin and curriculum on the same network - something that some schools and authorities have been reluctant to do for security reasons. However, it's seen as an essential step if teachers are to make full use of pupil assessment data.

Many schools that have made rapid progress with ICT are held up by lack of technical support. Michael's solution came when he discovered that the school caretaker was a computer buff. Now he works for part of his time as a technician. The advantages in having someone like that on the spot are obvious. It's also a pointer for other schools that it's worth taking notice of what skills and interests people have beyond what's visible in the day job.

Gerald Haigh

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