Self-build sites hit the ratings

28th May 2004 at 01:00
When teachers put their own resources online, other teachers like to visit. Dorothy Walker reports

A year ago, ICT teacher Debbie Jones decided to build herself a website.

She added her teaching materials, together with links to all the useful web resources she had come across, so that she could access everything from home.

"I called the site Teach-ICT, and I showed a few friends," says Debbie Jones, from King's High School for Girls, in Warwick. "They were so positive that I thought I would put a little note about it on The TES online forum. That's when the whole thing sky-rocketed. We are now getting 1,000 visitors a day, and the figures are rising steeply every month."

Her success is not surprising: ask ICT teachers where they find good resources, and other teachers' websites invariably come top of the list.

Some sites are run by schools, others funded from teachers' own pockets.

"Teach-ICT costs me pound;250 a year, and that figure will rise, because I am running out of bandwidth," says Debbie Jones. Her resources include schemes of work, lesson plans, homework ideas and animated games. She has a series of "mini-websites" for GCSE, and the KS3 section includes links to other teachers' schemes for delivering the KS3 ICT strategy. She plans to expand the A-level section and put up interactive exam questions for students, complete with model answers. "But I have to think of a way to cover costs - and I don't want to charge teachers for using anything."

David Phillips is KS3 ICT co-ordinator at Harvey Grammar School, Folkestone, and creator of ICTGCSE, started four years ago when pupils asked to use his project guides via the web. He teamed up with network manager Stuart Motley and art teacher Adam Kirkton, aiming to entertain as well as inform, and the site attracts 2,500 visitors a day. Highlights include movies explaining concepts such as networks and email, plus a fiercely contested online quiz league. He says: "We want to make pupils think: 'That's really cool - I'd like to try that'."

David Phillips and Stuart Motley fund the site themselves, and now plan to charge for some new resources. There will be exercises for ICT cover lessons - eg click on a link to download a partly built database or spreadsheet, with instructions on how to complete it - and videos which show how to achieve key software tasks, running through every keystroke and mouse-click as seen on screen.

One of the longest-established school sites is Didcot Girls' School Online, created in 1996 when head of ICT Ian Lee decided to put all his worksheets online to help staff in other departments teach ICT. Resources are available for Years 7-12, and his online revision quizzes attract an international following. There is an extensive library of downloadable software, and Ian Lee, who is now the school's network manager, is adding tools and tips for network management.

A website which shows how to build a website is one of the draws from Kesgrave High School in Ipswich. "HTML Basics does get a lot of hits," says head of ICT Rob Cawley. "I wrote it when I was learning HTML (HyperText Markup Language) so that I could teach it to Year 8." Over the next year he will be adding KS4 materials to the KS3 and A-level resources already online.

ICT@KJS is run by its creator David Yates, head of ICT at New Hall School, Chelmsford, and Matthew Beston, David Yates's counterpart at the King John School in Benfleet. Recently added resources cover the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL), and A-levels are a particular strength. "I get a lot of emails from teachers new to A-level - it can be a struggle if you haven't taught it before," says David Yates. "The site has put me in touch with other teachers, who have used my resources and then shared things with me. That is very helpful when you are teaching exam courses in a small department.

"The only useful resources I have found on the web are produced by other teachers. There was a huge fuss over the NGfL, but I have looked on the NGfL site and found next to nothing of interest. The Government, exam boards and LEAs are not very good about putting useful material on their websites - some of the boards won't even put up past exam papers without charging for them."

A subscription-based site to support applied GCSE in ICT has been launched by 4Learning at Channel 4. The site, gcsEASE, provides games, quizzes, case studies and a collection of weblinks for students, plus teaching notes. A series of TV programmes which explore the IT industry is available on video or DVD.

Sources of primary material include teacher Mark Warner's Teaching Ideas, hosted by educational supplier RM and featuring Welcome to the Web, an interactive guide that introduces young surfers to the internet. Foundation stage ICT features strongly on the extensive Sir Robert Hitcham Primary School site, run by ICT co-ordinator Andrew Trythall. And BT's Resource Bank provides teaching packs with animated tutorials for primary and secondary students.

ICT Advice, from the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta), fields online advisers to support the teaching of ICT and its application in the curriculum. There is a chat room and an online community of ICT co-ordinators. Becta also runs NGfL, the national gateway to educational websites, and Becta's Teacher Resource Exchange provides a medium for professionals to share ideas and resources.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's schemes of work for ICT can be found on the Standards Site, and QCA's National Curriculum in Action uses examples of pupils' work to exemplify the curriculum in practice.

National Curriculum Online links every programme of study requirement to the resources available at Curriculum Online, the online catalogue of digital learning resources. And TeacherNet, from the Department for Education and Skills, offers a range of lesson plans, reviewed by teachers.

Teach-ICT: www.teach-ict. com


Didcot Girls' School:

Kesgrave High School:

ICT@KJS: www.thekjs.essex.sch.ukyates

gcsEASE: www.channel4.comgcsease

Teaching Ideas:

Sir Robert Hitcham Primary School:

BT Resource Bank: www.btplc.comictresource_bankindex.cfm

ICT Advice:


Teacher Resource Exchange:

The Standards Site:

National Curriculum in Action:


National Curriculum Online:

Curriculum Online:

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