Colleague and friend Mark Hudson, deputy head of technology, has taught with Jonathan Boyle, a former aspiring rock guitarist, for six years. He identifies enthusiasm, patience and a sense of humour as three of the Liverpudlian's most impressive qualities: "He is a great practitioner in the use of ICT. At heart he's just a big kid who loves new 'toys' and is able to learn to use them quickly and to great effect. His love of the subject enables him to enthuse others. In his teaching he is animated and dynamic and uses a natural humour to entertain the students... He is supportive of staff with less capability with ICT and trains teachers both on our PGCE course and as part of the CADCAM initiative hosted at the school."
Jonathan's first network at Thomas Telford was a collection of "lovely Acorns held together with bits of shoelace, coat hanger wire and crossed fingers". Now the school has a modern network and interactive whiteboards where information can be posted for staff and students.
As well as developing ICT at Thomas Telford, specifically the use of 3D CAD, Jonathan has worked with Delcam to produce an educational version of the ArtCAM software which is now recognised as an integral part of the CADCAM initiative. CADCAM Cookies has been produced as part of his Technology Fellowship with the Gatsby Charitable Trust. This CD-Rom contains eight video tutorials covering many aspects of CADCAM in schools which "has been developed to train teachers and students alike".
That's not all. Identifying the high number of pupils with access to computers at home (80 per cent), the school has put in place an impressive online learning programme that includes homework provision, feedback to parents, streaming video and constant assessment of work. "It's about," says Jonathan, "providing students with the opportunity for a level playing field... Looking for ways in which you can integrate ICT effectively into your curriculum provision for the students. And the benefits are many. " Long-term, this may be the most significant of Jonathan's achievements. The school's intranet enables students to access learning materials in school, at home or from any suitable public information point, eg libraries. The provision of Web-based support materials tailored to the students' needs is complemented by a software program that records their work and allows teachers to track the progress made.
Many of Jonathan's educational software modules are now being offered to other schools as part of Thomas Telford's commitment to sharing successful practice. He's been a contributor to INCPEN educational materials and an online design and technology tutor for the BBC Bitesize website. Currently, he's working on CAD CAM Cookies 2. It sure beats playing on Top of the Pops.