Tacking down the safety net

Think about security and work and a number of things spring to mind. There's the issue of theft and how to safeguard equipment now schools are increasingly becoming a target for criminals. Then there's network security and the time you couldn't get into the school system because you'd forgotten your password. And theres that clever memory jogger devised by the network manager which gave you access.

The flip side of this is insecurity and this is a more personal matter. often stemming from a Lack of support. Will you ever get the hang of information and communications technology (ICT). at least in class with all your students watching? Will they really put you in front of this interactive whiteboard thing and expect you to do the 21st-Century version of chalk and talk, without even having received any training? Bring the two angles together and you begin to see the importance of security in schools ICT And this TES Online has more than a little to offer on the issue. We kick off a three-parter on security with a look at how to protect the massive investments in technology that are being made in UK schools. Laurence Cohen, a writer on security issues, identifies some of the probLems and points to possible soLutions (p9).

But how do you even get hold of technology worth stealing in the first place? Gerald Haigh looks into a Government pilot project to help schools make wise purchasing decisions (p8). which is an area where most schools welcome some support and reassurance. Look out for the Independent Procurement Advisory Service; it is already learning valuable lessons and its challenge will be how to spread the word.

We're also very pleased to bring you the free cover-mounted CD-Rom from the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta). promoting its new 'Transforming Teaching amp; Learning" website (www.ictadvice.org.uk).

Support for teachers is the most important element in bringing about the Government's National Grid for Learning (NGFL) and if this achieves only a fifth of its promise it will have been worth it. At it its Launch earlier this year Becta pledged that the NGFL would be the best support service for teachers anywhere in the world. Teachers should make sure they hold Becta to that promise.

Finally, there's the dreadful insecurity surrounding the BBC's Digital Curriculum, which is finally heading for the courts (p4). This is because of the elevated, unearned position being given to the BBC in Curriculum Online on the basis of pound;150 million which it ought to be spending on education anyway. Now the Digital Curicculum proposals are being considered by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. We hope the DCMS consults wisely and fairness wins out. The idea that a major, exciting national initiative like the Government's Curriculum Online, with terrific potential for everyone in education, could be stymied by what ought to be a sideshow is scandalous. The problem always was and remains, avoidable.

Merlin John, editor

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