Wide disparities in Grid achievements

8th September 2000 at 01:00
Changing climate in the ICT sector

The National Grid for Learning has led to some very high quality teaching and learning in Wakefield schools that would not otherwise have taken place, but there are wide disparities of achievement between schools with some teaching and learning remaining poor.

That is one conclusion of an independent evaluation of the impact on the West Yorkshire district's 49 schools in the first year of the initiative.

As well as enhancing pupils' attitude to ICT, there has been a "remarkable" shift in staff attitudes. Many schools have helped teachers to develop basic ICT skills, but the report says the LEA needs to offer more in-service training.

Much ICT teaching is very good or excellent and although pupils enjoyed lessons and responded well to challenges set, attainment was unsatisfactory in 22 per cent of lessons.

It was found that suites of computers for whole class or large group teaching were the most effective and therefore schools should consider buying data projectors or interactive whiteboards.

Wireless networks are also suggested to ake more flexible use of laptops and the report adds that schools and the LEA should consider long-term plans for refreshing ICT equipment.

Another examination of the NGFL, by Professor John Furlong of Cardiff University and other academics, questions whether the government's hope of using it to revolutionise learning is realistic. They warn that home access to technology is vital, but suggest it is "anything but egalitarian". As well as being excluded from the enriched curriculum opportunities the NGFL offers, those without home access to technology will not gain the skills for learning they find are developed by those with home computers.

"It will be these skills and strategies, rather than those promoted in schools, that will be essential for the success of our children in the new millennium," the academics conclude.

The National Grid for Learning: An Evaluation of its Impact in Wakefield Schools can be read at www.gowild.org.uknewsindex.htmlThe National Grid for Learning: A Curriculum Without Walls? John Furlong et al, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University.

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