Hang Ups

6th June 1997 at 01:00
If the current system of inspections has a shortcoming, it is that schools + have too long to prepare. It would prove far more effective if inspections were+ shorter, sharper - and unannounced. Like those raids that are always happening+ on television cop shows. It's dawn. The DI and a few of his heavies in mufti + bail out of the unmarked motors. Fingers to lips, they sidle up to Chummy's + front door. A nod from the DI. Battering ram. Crash! In the bedroom, a naked + extra holds the duvet tightly to her trembling body. Chummy now reacts in one + of two ways. Either he legs it through a convenient back window. Or he affects + one of those smug smiles that Year 9 boys are always trying to perfect: dumb + insolence combined with enough cherubic innocence to suggest that butter would + freeze in their mouths. The officers search every square centimetre of the + room. They are dumbfounded."The gaff's as clean as a whistle, Guv. We can't pin+ a dickie-bir d on him." "You must have had the nod we were coming!" says the + DI through gritted teeth. "But don't think you're going to get away with this."+ "I think I already have, Inspector."We can all learn from Chummy. Even if the + only scouting badges that he ever picked up were nicked off the other members + of his troop, his days of dib-dib-dibbing taught him the vital importance of + always being prepared. Similarly, as Chief Constable Blunkett embarks on his + crusade to collar bad teachers, the wilier members of the profession will waste+ no time in preparing for the day when an inspector calls. IT co-ordinators + should - in theory, at least - find it easier than most. The National Council + for Educational Technology (NCET), with the National Association of Advisors + for Computers in Education (NAACE), has just published an updated edition of + the definitive guide to an OFSTED visit. Inspecting IT and a companion volume, + Reviewing IT, offer everything that anybody could possibly want to know about + an inspection.What makes the publications particularly useful is that NAACE + trains OFSTED inspectors and includes many of them among its ranks. So this is + genuine from-the-horse's-m outh stuff. For example, the section on "quality + indicators" lists the tell-tale signs that, apparently, reveal whether IT is + alive and well in a school. More than 100 statements include everything from + assessment procedures to the quality of resources. Even a cursory glance at the+ list confirms that however much IT co-ordinators are paid, it's not enough. As+ well as their obvious duties, they are expected to shoulder responsibility for+ such things as ensuring that children understand the copyright laws as they + apply to software and for increasing "parents' awareness of the ways in which + IT can support children's learning".The clever approach is for teachers to + carry out their own thorough inspection of the school's IT provision long + before OFSTED arrives. It's then a matter of spotting the obvious shortcomings + and of devising strategies to put them right. Although the authors confirm that+ subjective evidence and "gut feelings" about such things can often be + accurate, they also insist on the value of a detailed and systematic review. + Their advice includes studying those flow charts that management types seem to+ enjoy so much, carrying out inventorie s, ticking boxes, answering + questionnaires and suchlike. Some IT co-ordinators will choose to undertake + this truly monumental task. The others, when they hear the knock on the door, + can always leg it through the back window.Inspecting IT, #163;15. Reviewing + IT, #163;17.50. Together #163;27.50. NCET, Milburn Hill Road, Science Park, + Coventry CV 7JJ. Tel: 01203 416994arnoldevans@easynet.co.uk

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