7th January 2005 at 00:00
The NOF scheme (paid for by the New Opportunities Fund and regulated by the Teacher Training Agency ) gave ICT training a bad name, but it would be foolish to lose its few benefits. Ofsted reports have noted as a criticism that many schools rely on in-house training rather than looking beyond their own school or college. Undoubtedly many schools do have the personnel to give skills training but few will have the people who can give the targeted training that a language teacher or historian needs. Money has been put in to schools to enable them to buy external CPD but the take-up has not been encouraging.

The one initiative that appears to have worked is the scheme to get laptops to teachers. Although not a training program, it has provided the impetus for teachers to learn the skills necessary to make use of the computer.

What it has not done is to help teachers to use the computer in their subject area. Teaching skills is easy; teaching how to apply those skills in a subject area in a classroom is hard and that is where we have stalled.

Ofsted has pointed out that "while effective use of ICT in teaching subjects is increasing... good practice is uncommon". The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) website claims that "fewer than 25 per cent of schools have ICT embedded across the school". There is plainly much to do.

Could it be that the number of initiatives being aimed at a lethargic market is contributing to confusion rather than clarity? The uptake of the ESTUICT project (Enhancing Subject Teaching Using ICT) has been poor and a rescue announcement is expected by education minister Charles Clarke. The "Hands on Support" initiative is having a limited impact so far. Schools do not seem to understand the financing and in any case they do not have to do it. Roadshows have been held across the country by the DfES with the subject associations, the key stage 3 strategy and technology agency Becta.

They aimed to promote the ICT Across the Curriculum (Ictac) pack from the KS3 National Strategy. It is to be hoped that the scatter-gun approach of these DfES initiatives will have some positive effects.

The collaboration of the OU and BBC is now in its second year. is a technically sophisticated site offering a wide range of courses, not confined to ICT, for everyone at every level in school. The courses are precisely targeted, attractively presented and, in the near future, it is planned to launch an accreditation programme. Building on the work they do on the TeachandLearn units, teachers will be able to submit assignments online while receiving tutorial support. There will be a variety of pathways that can be followed, leading to a postgraduate qualification within a Masters degree framework. The advisory panel features people such as Ted Wragg, with Tim Brighouse as chairman.

TeachandLearn courses, Brighouse claims, are now the essential complement to existing CPD, offering the highest quality of professional support across a wide range of school-based issues. "TeachandLearn sets a new quality benchmark for online CPD - the excellence of this teaching and learning resource is precisely what you would expect from the OU and BBC."

Teachandlearn provides courses and resources written by teachers - some of them school and classroom-based, others working in leading university departments. There are video activities that can be used in the classroom including presentations from Colin Pillinger who inspired the Beagle 2 mission to Mars, the OU's Doreen Massey on the development of the geographical imagination, Neil Mercer on the power of Interthinking, Lisa Jardine on Robert Hook and Trevor Phillips on Citizenship. There is a richness and breadth here that is unique.

Another important programme is Slict (Strategic Leadership of ICT). Slict was developed by the National College of School Leadership jointly with Becta and is a programme for headteachers to address the leadership of ICT in schools. It aims to assist head teachers to gain knowledge and understanding of key issues in this area and to enable them to harness the power of ICT for the good of their schools.

Now, in addition, there is teamSlict for leaders within secondary schools.

The new course is about pedagogy, embedding ICT, inclusion, managing change, developing roles and culture, and considering and sharing the school vision. Up to four heads of department from a school can attend the two-day residential course with follow-up activities. The lessons of ICT over the years has been that real developments will not occur unless the leadership of a school has been involved in the strategy.

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Teachers' TV Stand X34

An innovation from the Department for Education and Skills, Teachers' TV is a TV channel which will enable teachers and schools to learn by sharing practical ideas and information. The aim is to give access to good practice, support for professional development, news and resources. The station will broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week on digital, cable and satellite from early this year. It will also be broadcast overnight on Freeview.

Tel: 020 7025 8040


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Teach and Learn

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