The Skills Factory, the company behind the Primary Complete suite of software, that helps teachers to reduce time spent on lesson planning, reporting and record-keeping, has launched an online tool that helps primary and secondary schools create school improvement plans and share them with others, such as teachers, governors and parents.
"Whenever we demonstrated Primary Complete, we would get head teachers coming up to us and asking how IT could be used to help them," explains Geoff Broadbent, director of online learning at Granada Learning, owner of The Skills Factory.
A key area that was identified was self-evaluation and the development of a school improvement plan.
"The changing structure of the Ofsted model means inspectors can show up at any time, so heads have to be on the ball all the time," says Broadbent.
The Skills Factory teamed up with Essex LEA to develop Schoolcentre.net, which has been piloted in 13 schools in Essex LEA. It allows schools to create and link a School Improvement Plan, Ofsted Action Plan and School Development Plan. It can also be used to produce individual subject and teacher development plans, and the plans can also include attached files such as a Word document, video clip or a sound clip.
Because Schoolcentre.net is an online system, there is no need for additional hardware or software, and information can be accessed by any computer equipped with a web browser.
"It helps head teachers to have a clear oversight of how exactly each teacher is responsible and accountable for every element of the School Improvement Plan," says Broadbent.
The Skills Factory is now developing a version for Scottish schools and there are also plans to include a Continuous Professional Development Plans, with teachers storing their own portfolios.
Broadbent says that the developers are keen to see Schoolcentre.net being used to forge links with LEAs, educational forums and advisers and inspectors. "We want to develop a community of people using the software," he says.