Guidelines aim to keep ICT user friendly
The revised curriculum framework for information and communications technology, issued in the past few days by Learning and Teaching Scotland, states: "It is not expected that all of ICT 5-14 will be introduced at once. Time will be needed for implementation of a range of issues, such as the development of pupil outcomes at one level so that they can be built upon during the next.
"Schools and teachers are encouraged to regard the implementation of ICT 5-14 as a developmental process and not as a single event."
A recent HMI report suggested that good practice in ICT is not "sufficiently widespread or consistent in quality", but predicted that the Government's pound;60 million project to connect every school to the National Grid for Learning should begin to show results within five years.
The Inspectorate wants to see better application of the technology to learning in the classroom, aided by an improved ratio of computers to pupils.
The new guidelines are intended to embed ICT across the curriculum and not restrict it as the province of one subject area. They reinforce its "non-technological" value, pointing to the manner in which ICT can support "a wide range of broader educational objectives including independent learning, collaboration with others and communication skills".
The message from the guidelines is that schools should develop "ICT capability". This is seen as leding to a broader experience for pupils not a narrow technological one so that they are "equipped with ICT knowledge, skills and attitudes that they can apply across the curriculum and use to develop their understanding of the world at large".
The task for teachers is a complex one, however. According to the guidelines:
"Teachers need to know which aspects of ICT 5-14 they are to deliver at a particular stage and in a given curricular area, their responsibilities for assessment and how to record pupils' progress so that the information can usefully be used by others."
The guide for teachers, which accompanies the guidelines, acknowledges the steep learning curve for staff. It says teachers have mainly positive views about ICT but their confidence is likely to be limited. "There is uncertainty among some secondary specialist staff about teaching ICT within their subject and among primary staff that a raft of new knowledge and expertise is yet another requirement for the generalist practitioner."
The teachers' guide quotes approvingly from a Welsh study which says the starting point for teachers working successfully with ICT is that they use the technology not for its own sake but as a response to pupil needs.
Curriculum leaders appear to remain confident that new developments will turn the situation round. These include the pound;23 million of lottery-backed training for teachers in ICT and the requirement that young students on pre-service training have to reach an agreed standard of competence.