City councils push ahead with ICT training

28th September 2001 at 01:00
Gillian Macdonald reports on the issues raised at SETT 2001 in Glasgow

New Opportunities Fund training is going well in the large cities, while smaller authorities are struggling. That was the picture which emerged from SETT 2001.

The NOF programme is the biggest such initiative in the UK, with pound;23 million in Scotland devoted to training teachers to improve information and communications technology skills and learn when and when not to use ICT in their subject.

The scheme is voluntary, but there was a 50 per cent uptake by June, Alan Ogg, HMI, reported.

Authorities can buy training from 10 providers. Provision varied, he said, but a standardised model was developing, with face to face skills training backed up by paper, CD-Rom and online resources.

Forthill primary in Broughty Ferry, was one school that exuded an "ICT ethos", Mr Ogg said. Lydia Catto, Forthill's head, said ICT had been part of the school development plan so training, supported by Dundee staff tutors, had taken place during planned activity time and in-service days.

NOF money allowed the school to have four supply teachers to release staff for training.

The school is now halfway through its training, but it says that the impact has already been felt across the 5-14 curriculum - in areas such as creativity, problem-solving, working with others and self-esteem. It has also created high levels of motivation and a positive learning environment.

Geoff Dawe, network manager for Leith Academy, reported good support from Edinburgh. His school had a long history of ICT skills training, and the city's information technology support unit (ITSU) ran courses for school staff.

NOF training provided by Elite, an Edinburgh provider, had been taken up by 93 per cent of staff. The first group started in June 2000, with three two-hour sessions led by Elite tutors. Additional materials from Learning and Teaching Scotland's "learning schools programme" and Edict, the Glasgow-based provider, were also used. Exemplars for teachers were on Edinburgh Council's intranet.

The impact of the NOF had been felt across all subject departments, Mr Dawe said. A group had been set up to develop learning and teaching with ICT and a school intranet and website were now being developed at Leith.

But if these city schools are success stories, others still face "huge problems" in how NOF training works, The TES Scotland was told. One ICT co-ordinator from a smaller authority said that the post-McCrone agreement had put "real constraints on how schools do the programme".

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