Why the IT guru's days are numbered

In the wonderful world of Scott Adams's "Dilbert" strip cartoons, being an IT guru is a privileged position. To attain it is to become separated from the mainstream of hierarchy, able to treat superiors and inferiors with equal disdain, and free to ignore all conventions of dress and personal hygiene.

Once upon a time, it was like that in schools. An assistant head of a big school recently told me what it was like to be in thrall to the IT guru.

"You'd go in with your laptop, and he wouldn't look away from some geeky thing he was doing on his machine. 'My laptop's just packed up,' you'd say.

'Leave it there,' he'd reply. 'But I have 30 children arriving in 20 minutes and I need it for my lesson.' 'I can't help that - it'll have to wait till I've de-bugged the TCPIP on the relay drop to the webserver.' Or something like that, anyway."

Is it like that for you? Probably not, I'd guess, for the full-blown IT guru is a dying breed in schools, partly thanks to a growing realisation that school ICT is much more to do with curriculum and teaching and learning than it is with technology.

Recently, I've been involved in looking at schools where leadership teams have taken part in the National College for School Leadership's "strategic leadership of ICT" programme. Some schools are doing wonderful things - graphics, animations, video, access from home. There's really no technological limit.

But what really strikes you is the confidence and drive of heads and teachers who aren't worried about the technicalities of it all. And they know what it will do for them and their children. It is precisely that to which the ICT co-ordinators and managers must respond. They, of course, do need technical know-how. But the best ones aren't in thrall to it.

Ann Cook is ICT co-ordinator at Ropsley primary in Lincolnshire. If anyone deserves the title of ICT guru, it's Ms Cook, who is well-known around the county for her expertise and leadership. And you want to know what turns her on? "I'm passionate about ICT because of the way it motivates children," she says. "It's magical to see their faces and the light in their eyes when they see that something works for them."

* www.ncsl.org.ukprogrammesslict

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