Getting teachers behind the wheel

13th June 2003 at 01:00
A classroom can be an "L" of a place for a teacher not comfortable with ICT: curriculum expectations that can't be met, stimulating software and hardware that's out of reach and, worst of all, a rather sad, unnecessary distance from the high-tech world inhabited by students, a gulf that can easily be exploited. The simple answer is to shed those L-plates.

If it was so simple, however, the training paid for by the New Opportunities Fund would have moved everything forward - it didn't.

The word is that all this is about to change. When Charles Clarke MP returned to education as secretary of state he was concerned at the lack of progress in ICT in curriculum subjects. And he expressed this at the BETT educational technology show in London in January when he said that the challenge was "mainstream" ICT. The other key word is "embed", and we are going to hear a lot more about both over the next year as the Government attempts to ensure that its investments in technology for schools are maximised. This will mean a welcome restructuring and funding boost for the British Educational and Communications Agency (Becta), a potential mainspring for change.

One key, of course, is training, Fortunately, three new training programmes are already in the pipeline (page 11) but with the current financial crisis, where schools aren't even spending the millions of pounds-worth of electronic learning credits given to them for digital resources (page 4), the danger is that training could fall off the agenda yet again. And ICT skills are still an issue, which is why it is good to see schemes like the European Computer Driving Licence gaining a foothold in schools (page 10).

Now Clarke is enrolling the help of subject associations in placing ICT at the heart of the classroom. This could be an important move if the response is good and the next Online (September 12) will take a close look at the issue to consider the good practice required and the obstacles to overcome if teachers are to ditch their L-plates and move into the ICT driving seat, with their students alongside them.

Talking of good practice, have you nominated a colleague for Becta's ICT in Practice Awards yet? The deadline is now drawing near and winners of these awards, supported by The TES, Pearson and BT, get a healthy pound;2,500 for themselves and pound;2,500 for their schools. This year, for the first time, The TES has sponsored a special category for teachers new to the profession to make sure that their achievements are recognised and rewarded - and their good practice shared with all our readers. This isn't about "superteachers" or any of the elitist concepts alien to most schools, it is about good practice pure and simple, so email Becta for information or take a look at the options on their website: practiceawards@becta.org.ukwww.becta.org.ukpracticeawards

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