Time out

Sir, We always need to celebrate achievement and best practice, but please can we have some articles that address the regular ICT co-ordinator? While we want the best for our kids, most of us don't want to spend every hour designing websites - we want a life, too. We suffer from initiative overkill and the problem is time.

Let's start with NOF ICT training. Workload is identified as the main reason for teachers leaving the profession and what did the geniuses behind NOF do? Organise extra training for us in our time with no extra pay.

Primary ICT co-ordinators face the further pressures of lack of non-contact time and inadequate technical support. Rather than wait a few days or weeks for support you are drawn into solving a problem. And the use of complicated networks also involves you in adding and deleting names, updating the virus checker on every PC, solving printer queues, loading new software or reporting faults, not to mention the responsibility for web-based email systems for every child in school.

If we are not careful the job of ICT co-ordinator will become the poisoned chalice; all volunteers take a step backwards. Schools and LEAs are willing to commit millions of pounds to hardware and software, but baulk at spending a few thousand on training or supply cover. A Ofsted report found that time spent on computers was limited in many schools. If a similar study was made of software use it would make shocking reading.

As Sue Palmer wrote in The TES in 1997: "A computer is only as good as the teacher in charge of it. You're wasting your time buying computers unless you know exactly what to do with them. You might as well buy several thousand pounds worth of colouring books."

Rather than whizzing down the internet super-highway, many teachers are in gridlock on the Neasden-Willesden interchange during a bleak morning. We need good training, but above all we need time.

Too many articles in TES Online follow the philosophy of the Government - a few super-heads or super-teachers can solve all our problems. It didn't work in the Fresh Start Schools and it ain't working in ICT.

Richard Knight

Knowsley teacher, address supplied

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