Helping heads toget IT right;Management

12th February 1999 at 00:00
Without doubt there are still headteachers who have a nagging feeling that they are not on top of information and communications technology. This is not because they cannot use it or that they are unaware of what it can do, but rather that ICT is still slightly detached from the school's mental map.

What these heads need is reassurance that ICT presents them not with unprecedented and difficult problems, but with the same management issues found in any other area of school life, areas that they tackle with confidence every day.

It is this "you can do it" approach which, more than anything, is provided by a new booklet, Heading for the Superhighway, produced by BT. Its findings and guidance come from the work of a research team set up by BT with the consultancy HTI (Heads, Teachers and Industry). The team included four seconded teachers led by Pat McCarthy, head of Eaglesfield School in Greenwich, who asked more than 200 schools how they had introduced computer systems and integrated them into their curriculum and administrative areas.

The chapter headings include such familiar generic management ideas as "Planning and Target Setting", "Capital Investment and Maintenance" and "Monitoring and Assessment". In each there is a series of questions, such as "Who is responsible for the management of various aspects of ICT within the school?" Or "How do you organise the location of resources across the school?" It then offers solutions, based on the team's research. What makes the report so helpful is the way it provides advice built upon the findings. For example: "Very few schools have really questioned their staff about difficulties in using the new technologies. Managers should encourage colleagues to articulate their concerns and plan accordingly."

The time is ripe for heads and governors to put ICT alongside the general management issues with which they are familiar. This document will help them in that process.

Summary of recommendations * Schools should review ICT use to identify where it can support professional practice.

* Heads need to promote a "vision" of how, when and where ICTwill support teaching and learning. All staff should be trained in using new technology.

* Agovernor should be appointed to take responsibility for ICTdevelopments.

* Examine the feasibility of integrating administration and curriculum systems.

* Consider using adults other thanteachers to support classroom ICT.

* Audit the skills of all staff and publish training and development programmes.

* School management and governing bodies should consider potential for community use of their ICT facilities.

Heading for the Superhighway was produced by BT Community Partnership Programme. For more information or to get a free copy call Carl Carter on 0171 356 6597 or carl.carter@bt.com

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