A failure of delivery on ICT?

9th July 2004 at 01:00
This week's story on New Opportunities Funding for training teachers in ICT makes fascinating reading in the light of subsequent developments (page one). Academic Tom Conlon brands the programme "a failure of delivery". But was it really?

Dr Conlon is critical of both the pound;230 million ICT training programme for the UK (pound;23 million in Scotland) and the CPD approach on which it is based, depicting it as a topdown model, sparked off by prime ministerial diktat and fuelled by millions of pounds from government. Teachers were, he claims, treated like empty vessels into which commercial providers of training attempted to pour technological knowledge.

These criticisms have already been voiced in official evaluations by Ofsted and HMI, as Dr Conlon acknowledges. But what is disappointing here is the narrowness of perspective and failure to recognise how far things have moved on.

Yes, NOF training was impeded by difficulties of classroom cover for teachers. Hence the introduction in Scotland two years ago of the Masterclass approach, which designated 600 teachers, heads and advisers specifically to help teachers in their own schools. Yes, there was a reluctance among teachers to pursue ICT courses in their own time. But now they have 35 hours a year in which to undertake professional development of all kinds.

But NOF training did not stand alone. It was reinforced by a multimillion pound investment in computers for schools; an annual ICT conference and exhibition (SETT) for education; an HMI video of best practice distributed to all schools; ICT to feature in all HMI school reports, thereby encouraging whole-school policies; and a Scottish Schools Digital Network to be launched next year. There was more than one carriageway on the ICT superhighway.

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