One body, one step beyond

16th January 1998 at 00:00
Last October, the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA) combined + forces with the National Council for Vocational Qualifications to form the + Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). For the first time,one + organisation has responsibility for the curriculum, assessment and all general + and vocational qualifications outside higher education. This offers a unique + opportunity to ensure coherence across education and training.Too often, bold + initiatives using information technology to support teaching and learning have + come to little because an important aspect has been out of step. The job of the+ new authority's information and communications technology team is to help + reconcile these different curriculum and assessment demands.Next week's BETT + show at Olympia is traditionally the time when the educational information + technology community looks ahead. New products are displayed and new + initiatives launched. Our views of the future should always be based on a firm + grasp of where we are.When SCAA started its work, the national curriculum was + overloaded and in chaos, and the Internet was for academics or the military. + Too often, I receive telephone calls from schools struggling with unnecessary,+ overly bureaucratic systems. But those of us who remember the early days of + micros in schools, who mastered CPM and loaded programs from tape into a BBC + model A, look with envy at those now growing up in a world of multimedia, the + Internet and electronic communications.While it is still the case that too few + pupils are reaching the expected standards at age 14, as last summer's teacher + assessment results show, we have received clear signals from the Government + about the importance of ICT and a commitment to the training and resource + issues that must be addressed. It took 30 years for tape recorders to become + fully established within foreign language teaching. In less than half that + time we will have moved from a single computer in a school to the national grid+ for learning.Over the next few months the QCA is seeking to initiate a + national debate over the place of ICT in the curriculum, how its use can + support teaching and learning and how the skills of using ICT are best + assessed. Those skills will increasingly become essential for lifelong + learning and employment and even for full participation in society.These are + all difficult issues. Our monitoring of the national curriculum indicates that + most teachers are not asking for fundamental changes to their subjects. But it + is also clear that without some further specification of how ICT fits into + those subjects, its use will remain patchy.The need to give priority to + literacy and numeracy in primary schools must be balanced with the breadth of + experience that ICT offers. The assessment and qualification system plays a + clear role in determining what is taught and how. If ICT is not recognised in + assessment, it will not be used. Yet, the difficulties of assessing work done + using ICT must not be underestimated.But while we consider what role the IT key+ skill should play and how to ensure that worthwhile content, essential if the + national grid for learning is to deliver its promise, is produced and + distributed in a way that meets teachers needs, let's marvel at the latest + technology and prepare for a future in which ICT will play a greater part.Niel + McLean is principal manager for information and communications technology at + the QCA

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now