Teaching Awards 2003

10th October 2003 at 01:00
Michael Duffy meets regional winners shortlisted for the national final.

This week: Mark Colman, winner of the BT award for most creative use of IT, southern region

Are today's children couch potatoes? Not if Mark Colman can help it. His passion is PE. "It builds up kids' health, develops their self-confidence and their social skills, frees them from the demands of classroom teaching, and releases their energy so they can build on their own resources." You can hear the commitment as he talks.

But he knows, too, how powerful IT can be as a teaching tool. His sports development course at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff taught him that. It was while he was taking his degree that he realised he wanted to be a teacher, so he stayed on for his PGCE, then landed the job of his dreams at Arnewood school, close to his native Bournemouth. He knew something about Arnewood; as a pupil, he used to play sport against them.

Now, though, it had technology college status: "great equipment, a tight-knit PE department - and superb IT".

It also benefited from Hampshire's involvement in the early entry teacher scheme: a pound;1,500 grant available to young teachers starting out on their careers, to help them develop their expertise and interests. Mr Colman used it to research IT as curriculum and teaching support. He picked up "lots of great ideas" and was particularly struck by the power of the digital camera as a learning tool.

Maximising the use of the school's intranet and website was a logical progression. Pupils turned to the PE department's pages to check fixtures, results, team news. It became a sort of Arnewood sports fanzine. Then they reviewed lessons or downloaded lesson notes. The stress, always, is on participation. "Participation means recognition," Mark says, "and recognition means enthusiasm."

He's thrilled that the school put him in for the award, and he's looking forward ("with a bit of trepidation") to the finals. There's just one problem. He plays "quite serious football" for Bournemouth Poppies in the Wessex League. "The manager's not going to like it."

The national final of the Teaching Awards is on October 26 and will be broadcast on BBC1 in early November. Nominations for next year's awards open next month at www.teachingawards.com

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