How red tape killed the ICT dream

29th November 2002 at 00:00
Dear Teacher Training Agency, I am sorry that Ofsted has found that the ICT training funded by the New Opportunities Fund "remains unsatisfactory in its overall effect" (TES Online, November 1). Sorry, because of the scheme's wholly demoralising effect on many of the 390,000 teachers who signed up. Although I learned much on my NOF course, little of it was a course objective. You see, I learned how:

* demoralising it is to have to write endlessly about teaching ICT instead of actually teaching ICT;

* soul-destroying non-stop assessment is;

* depressing it is to have your work returned with your tutor's observation that you have dotted the i's but not crossed all the t's;

* tick boxes quickly develop a life of their own which detracts from the aim of the course;

* fear of failure results in participants throwing all learning objectives out of the window in order to concentrate on passing;

* patronising the language of assessment must be for our trainee teachers and pupils (I was constantly reminded that "candidates will also be marked on their presentation").

I would be less angry if the reams of paperwork were justified by the need to scrutinise possible personal financial gain. I completed the course not to enhance my employment prospects, but to develop my use of ICT in lessons. While I have taught a class in our IT room (a course requirement for which my planning, delivery and evaluation paperwork exceeded the whole class's finished work), it will probably be the only time I ever do.

Most of my four hours per week, in my "spare" evenings for a term, were spent completing the forms you insisted were essential for the course to be publicly funded.

Despite the good content and good tutors, I would not recommend the course to anyone since the countless hours of relentless assessment destroyed any ounce of enthusiasm I have ever have had for IT. To add insult to injury, the pound;400 cost of the training came via National Lottery ticket sales - often described as a tax on the poor.

Ted Wragg was spot on when he referred to your obsession with objectives for teacher training and bullet points (The TES, September 21, 2001): "You wade neck deep through treacleI While the recruitment problems burn, the TTA fiddles with flying bullets and online tests of this and that. They just don't get itI Burying keen trainees under a vast bureaucracy, a monstrous pile of documents and paper, instead of exciting them and challenging their imagination is a recipe for an even bigger disaster."

Jenny Owl Jenny Owl is a head of department in a northern comprehensive. She writes under a pseudonym

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