Network equals informed teachers

10th March 2000 at 00:00
AT GREENSWARD School in Hockley, Essex, they operate a fully integrated computer network. "We're treating teachers as non-trustworthy amateurs," says head, David Triggs. "We've got to treat them as professionals."

The Greensward network was installed three years ago and sparked a debate as to how it could be used to free teachers' time and improve school

effectiveness.

"SIMS (Schools Information Management System) had been out for 15 years. It had been developed as an integrated package, there was all this information available ... yet we were only dabbling," says Mr Triggs.

Today teachers at Greensward use the network for simple messages, calendar information, minutes of meetings, school records - all the things that some managers are concerned about falling into the wrong hands.

"If teachers want to send a letter, they simply click on a standard letter, fill in the boxes, send it to the office. When they return to the staffroom the letter is in their tray.

"They haven't got to think abut what to write. The office staff don't have to retype or decipher the letter. We know it's recorded properly because copies are sent to both the electronic file and the paper file."

Greensward has saved on admin staffing costs since implementing the network. Mr Triggs believes his secretarial staff are less stressed now than they were under the previous system.

"And it makes me more aware as a headteacher," he says. "On screen now I have information about a pupil who is appearing in a local drama production. It's celebrating her success. When I see Sophie in the corridor I'll be able to say 'Great Stuff!'"

Mr Triggs argues that security is a side issue, a distraction preventing some senior managers from exploiting their technology to the full. "There are sophisticated security systems," he says. "Each person, each machine, each teacher has their own entry log-in level.

"We wouldn't have access to any management issues on open computers in a classroom. The machine doesn't access them."


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