Adding extra to the ordinary

9th February 2001 at 00:00
How many of you thought the following of David Puttnam when he started getting involved in information and communications technology (ICT) in education? "What does a Hollywood mogul know about ICT in schools and what could he possibly offer?" However, if you had heard his TES keynote speech at BETT 2001, you would have been surprised (see edited text right). He has visited schools all over the UK and talked to teachers and key people in educational ICT - and it shows. It wasn't just the way he mastered his brief that impressed his audience; it was the honesty with which he acknowledged the depth of the problems facing schools and colleges and the educators working in them. While he applauded the commitment to, and investment in, educational ICT from the Government, he also acknowledged that it was probably not enough, and that the pound;230 million NOF training for teachers, although well meant, was only a limited start. These may seem minor concessions, but if they are acted on intelligently they will help teachers.

David Puttnam is creating space between the enamel gloss of Ministers and the stone walls of their apparatchiks, space where ordinary mortals can breathe. It is invigorating and packed with potential. The full text of his speech is available on the TES Online and Becta websites, as is that of kindred spirit Professor Stephen Heppel, with his challenge in our last issue of an e-Charter for Children. In our March issue he will develop his call for action research by teachers.

With the election in mind, BETT visitors were astonished when NGFL minister Michael Wills outlined the next stage of the Government's Computers for Teachers initiative. How could they get it so wrong to restrict the subsidies to some secondary maths teachers? While it may have seemed logical to an official to target the maths curriculum, only someone remote from a classroom could have failed to anticipate the frustration and disappointment of teachers who missed out (see news p4, letters p29).

A highlight of the BETT show was Becta's ICT in Practice Awards for teachers, supported by The TES and sponsored by BT. We are devoting our cover feature (p8) to the award-holders and runners-up. The consistency of the issues that emerged - particularly the cross-phase gap in ICT experience between primary and secondary, and the dubious merits of the ubiquitous computer room - was remarkable.

We are committed to spreading the good practice uncovered in this process and will be returning to participants in future TES Onlines. Meanwhile take some time to check out our website for the personal statements of all the teachers featured on these pages.

Merlin John, editor of TES Online

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