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Power up for innovation

Inspirational use of technology is at the heart of the ICT in Practice Awards, says Jack Kenny.

A rich seam of good teaching in primary schools has been revealed by the ICT in Practice Awards, sponsored by British Educational Communications Technology Agency, BT and The TES, and presented at BETT 2001 in January.

All the teachers nominated saw themselves as learners, as delighted to be discovering and experimenting as their pupils.

The belief that ICT can both motivate and excite made Kathryn Costello put the Internet at the heart of her teaching, in the small community of Nettlesworth, County Durham. Kathryn has used the Internet to publish her pupils' work to the world. She believes that they receive proper recognition when their work is more widely disseminated. For example, the school's History Time Trail, recommended by the BBC, has proved to be popular with other teachers because the pupils have created their own Romans web content on a site made by children for children.

Another Nettlesworth Internet project, about the Second World War, was seen by a retired former pupil, who has since become a valuable resource in describing what County Durham was like during the war and in unravelling the unfamiliar jargon used during the period.

Also making good use of the Internet is Philip Edwards, a teacher at Cwmaber primary, a small school in Abertridwr, South Wales. Many of the word games and puzzles that abound on the Internet are used judiciously in literacy and numeracy.

Philip has also discovered a website that will mark and return children's work and believes that e-mail is the jewel in the ICT crown. The school has e-mail links with Hawaii, New Hampshire and Australia. The tooth fairy has even been involved in lessons using spreadsheets. Pupils e-mailed other schools to discover how much the tooth fairy gives in the various locations. The data was loaded into spreadsheets and graphs produced. Microsoft Excel spreadsheet was used for currency conversion.

David Baugh, of ysgol Frongoch in Denbigh, North Wales, has strong views on a question that perplexes many schools:to have a computer suite or to distribute the machines around the school. David has five computers in his class and they are in constant use, as pupils work in groups on various tasks.

David insists that successful use of ICT has to be meticulously planned and that it is particularly effective in topic and project work. "Using ICT within this type of work allows children to plan, discuss, co-operate, create and present work so that they have real ownership. By being central to the whole creation process, a child's learning increases and the child gains a sense of self-worth because they have produced something that they feel good about that they can show others."

Jenny NoeI-Storr, of Redhill school in Telford, describes her school as "a learning community". Six-year-olds produce animations in Microsoft PowerPoint.

Younger children, who cannot write, record their achievements with a digital camera. As in Frongoch, computers are distributed around the school, with pupils going to use them as naturally as they would pick up a pen.

Redhill has a computer-pupil ratio of 1:10, not far above the national average. A distinguishing feature is the first-rate quality of the documentation. Every aspect of the ICT work is documented and Jenny ensures that guidelines are available to all staff, with policies and plans being continually revised.

Jenny believes that an ICT-literate staff is crucial. Instead of just interviewing prospective staff, she visits their schools to see their classroom work. Training is given when needed. As a result, all staff use ICT with skill and enthusiasm.

Jack Kenny was a judge of the ICT in Practice Awards. Next year's awards will be launched at the Education Show in March and announced in The TES. The closing date for nominations will be the end of July.

Websites Nettlesworth Timeline: www. timetime.html Redhill school: atschool.eduweb.

co. ukredhill.primary Online games:

www. Online marking: www.funbrain. comquizindex.html ysgol Frongoch: www.frongoch.

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