Case study 1

16th June 2000 at 01:00
* TOTALLY WIRED- IBM consultants for schools

At Colaiste Murie, a secondary school in Cork, teachers can exchange lesson plans, support and advice using an IBM package called Wired for Learning.

IBM's Reinventing Education, a blueprint for business sponsorship of education, was launched in the UK late last year. Education minister Estelle Morris has persuaded the company to work with 50 beacon schools to spread best practice.

IT teacher John McGrath says: "Initially, the response was 'who's going to be vetting my lesson?' Now a teacher can show a plan to their subject group. Later they can incorporate comments and share the lesson widely. The idea is to build a national database."

The Irish government is keen to make use of Wired for Learning. Its teachers are being trained, for example, to download information from the web, or design web pages. At the same time, schools are offering parents sessions. Teachers are working with IBM to build conferencing software.

In the UK, IBM's programme will invest about pound;650,000 over two years match funded by the DfEE. Teachers in beacon schools will work with IBM consultants to identify needs and priorities. IBM wants the project to become self-sustaining as schools, LEs, the Government and sponsors see the benefits.

Colaiste Murie school web site:

* SLICK BUSINESS - West Hill School

Science is no mystery for pupils at West Hill school, Leatherhead. The 130-pupil special needs school is just around the corner from the Esso offices, and the link began when headteacher Mary Goldie asked the oil company to supply a governor.

Esso did more than that. It started supplying teaching resources. Goldie says: "It's wonderful to have one of Esso's senior personnel managers on the governing body. And it's wonderful to get extra resources."

Esso has equipped West HIll with a weather station and a digital TV camera. This year, the company's poetry anthology, Growing with Trees, (part of Esso's star science resources) is being used in literacy hour. "It generates discussion on the environment or the weather - whatever pupils are doing in science," says Goldie.

Esso's links extend to teacher placements and pupil visits.

So does the school's performance in science reflect Esso's interest? "Our SATs results have shown improvement and the support from Esso is part of that process. It's a combination of good resourcing and good teaching," says Goldie.

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