Learning and Teaching Scotland's lines of contact with the English-focused ICT agency Becta is reaping rewards, reports Douglas Blane
There is no shortage of advice on using information and communications technology in schools. A web search for "ICT", "advice" and "teachers" generates close to 70,000 hits and a quick survey of these suggests that many are relevant and interesting.
Few busy teachers have time to sift this vast array and search for the nuggets of knowledge that will transform their teaching. Fortunately, help is at hand from the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta), the Government's leading body for ICT in education.
Unfortunately, Becta's website is not only fairly vast itself, it is also very much aimed at teachers in England, so that advice on good practice at the detailed level useful to practitioners is littered with references to key stages and the national curriculum.
While much of the site's content remains relevant and interesting to all UK teachers, this bias does form a psychological barrier for those who work in Scotland, increasing the time it takes them to place the advice in context.
This in turn means Scottish teachers make far less use of an immensely valuable resource than they might otherwise do.
The Maximising the Impact of Becta in Scotland project launched by Learning and Teaching Scotland aims to make Becta's advice and resources readily accessible to teachers and managers north of the border.
Jim Henderson, LT Scotland's Becta liaison officer, explains: "We meet regularly with Becta to talk about resources and help raise the profile of the Scottish dimension. The national curriculum is highly specific and detailed, whereas in Scotland the 5-14 curriculum guidelines are just that and there is a bit more scope for the imagination and professional expertise of the teacher.
"One of the key aspects of the project is to take the resources that Becta have produced for the national curriculum and fit them into the broad strand of 5-14, which is not prescriptive and you can use them with imagination."
One outcome of enhanced communications between Becta and LT Scotland is the recent publication of booklets aimed at Scottish primary teachers. Three Using Web-based Resources in Primary Schools have been issued so far, for English, maths and science lessons.
Another area of collaboration between the two organisations is the development of a specifically Scottish version of Becta's ICT advice site for anyone looking for information on hardware, software or examples of good practice in schools.
LT Scotland has been influential in ensuring that the criteria for Becta's new Creativity in Digital Video Awards are curriculum-neutral and applicable in Scotland. In fact, it was a Scottish school, Dyce Academy, that won the 15-16 age group this year.
Mr Henderson is keen to emphasise that the collaboration between LT Scotland and Becta does not result in one-way traffic and that good resources developed for Scotland remain just as good in England. For example, the recent report ICT in Pre-School: A Benign Addition?, based on research commissioned by LT Scotland, will be made available on the Becta website.
"I see this very much as a partnership with benefits to both sides," says Mr Henderson.
Jim Henderson will talk on Learning and Teaching Scotland and Becta's ICT advice service on Wednesday, 1pmThe site will be launched on the NGfL in Action stand, C20 www.ictadvice.org.ukscotland