Charity begins

3rd October 2003 at 01:00
Adventures of an NQT

Joining the ICT working party seemed like a good idea at the time

I've joined my first working party. St Brian's is big on working parties.

Our superhead, Dr Alastair Scarlett, created them as part of his mission to give the school a "culture" and an "ethos". He also instigated the morning staff meetings that always finish with his catchphrase: "Hey, let's go the extra mile out there."

Dr Scarlett suggested I join the ICT working party, "because you're young".

I was a little reticent, but at least I get to see the school conference room.

I enter a gleaming vision of chrome and leather, with an enormous fish tank running the length of one wall. It's unlike any other room at St Brian's, which is a converted Victorian workhouse. Also present are Amy Studds the school bursar, Saeed Rashid our ICT co-ordinator, and a pale, bearded man I've never seen before.

The head says he wants to "get down to the chalkface on this one" because ICT is the future. He nods to Amy Studds, who hits a key on her laptop. The legend "PowerPoint" appears on the projector screen that's suddenly dropped from the ceiling. An image from Metropolis appears, followed by a picture of Dr Scarlett shaking hands with Tony Blair. "Is that Downing Street?"

asks Saeed. "No, it's a town called Lucca," Studds replies. "The PM and Dr Scarlett had adjacent villas there in August." The bursar and the head share a smile.

I can't see where this is going. The head picks up on my bemusement. "Yes, Miss Casement?" "Oh, well, I was just wondering... does St Brian's treat ICT as a discrete subject, or is the idea to integrate it across the curriculum so it's used as an enabling technology rather than a stand-alone skill?" I don't really know what I'm talking about, but it sounds like the sort of thing one should say at a working party. Amy Studds looks furious, the head shuffles in his chair. The pale man just stares.

"It's quite simple, Miss Casement," the head says. "We're going to apply for technology status..." "Good idea - more money!" Saeed interrupts. The pale man smiles. "Yes, Mr Rashid, there are financial benefits," Dr Scarlett continues, "but we're mainly interested in building on St Brian's excellent history of achievement in this area." (He must be referring to Year 7's victory in the southern area final of the Tomb Raider Challenge because, according to my leather-bound volume of Panda tables, we've never entered anyone for an ICT exam.) So St Brian's is going to be a technology college, and the "kit", Dr Scarlett explains, will be supplied by the school's PFI partner, Tbilisi Technology. "Which is where Stoyan comes in," he says, gesturing to the pale man.

Stoyan Radovich is a former "technician" from Georgia who became a millionaire after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s - "the right man in the right place at the right time". Amy Studds met him on her gap year trip to Chernobyl in the 1980s.

Dr Scarlett says that Stoyan is keen to expand his interests at St Brian's and that he and Amy will lead a school trip to Chechnya next year. "Oh, and he's joining the board of governors." Stoyan laughs as he takes a package from his briefcase. He unwraps what looks like a fillet steak and hurls it into the tank. Fish dart out from behind rocks and devour the meat. Stoyan smiles. "Piranhas!"

Next Week: Induction with a New Age twist

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