ICT in UK Schools: Contents page | Report index
1 THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
The Government must launch a long term strategy to increase effective usage of ICT in schools.
Specifically:make a firm commitment to ICT, publicly champion it and proclaim it to be a priority
construct a strategy
appoint a dedicated departmental minister
make national agencies key players in this strategy: they need to sign up to the Government strategy and report to Government on what steps they take to implement it
encourage every school to formulate, implement and report back on its own policies on ICT across the whole school
inspire and enable every organisation and individual involved in the profession to participate in a coherent and productive way
sustain and give coherence to the many initiatives required to achieve the long term objective
2 Teacher Support
The overall aim should be radically to improve and accelerate the skills, experience and confidence of teachers so that they can use ICT to facilitate learning.
Specifically:set up a dedicated external network using Web sites on the Internet (the National Grid for Learning) and give all teachers their own e-mail identity
find ways to make available computers to teachers to facilitate the learning process, eg. some form of income tax allowance regulation to allow full tax breaks for teacher ownership
ensure that certain levels of ICT competence in initial teacher training are a requirement
devise a programme to ensure that training in ICT is continued in service as a matter of routine
ensure that advisors and inspectors in the education service are trained to appropriate levels of competency in ICT
conduct an independent review of the examination system in the light of the educational benefits which will be brought about by ICT
3 Software The overall aim should be to stimulate the development of software to ensure that there is a sufficient level of educationally effective material for use in schools.
Specifically:establish a network using a Web site on the Internet on which teachers can exchange, improve and swap software ideas (ie. the National Grid for Learning)
develop ways in which Government can seed/stimulate greater development of software by the UK software industry, (taking the stability of the National Curriculum into account), eg. by the establishment of a software voucher system
set up a national award scheme and a kite marking system to encourage the production of software in all educationally relevant categories and provide means of developing an objective guide to help schools identify good, bad and indifferent software
Government and Lottery bodies should set a grant threshold over which it will be mandatory for organisations capable of providing useful content on the Internet to do so
4 External Networks
The overall aim should be to ensure that all children, over a certain age, and all teachers have access to the World Wide Web and the e-mail facility via the Internet.
make the cost of usage of the Internet by schools easily affordable and predictable by negotiating with the telecommunications industry with a view to re-constructing the current regulatory framework
give every child from, say, the age of nine and every teacher their own e-mail identity
Although hardware comes lower on the list of priorities, the overall aim should be to ensure that an appropriate level of hardware, and therefore access, is available to all children, as the more pressing issues of software and teacher training are resolved:
sort out the blockages that currently exist to the hardware being effectively used
make sure that no hardware equipment over 5 years old is included in any official counts to avoid a false sense of complacency
support small schools in particular and many primary schools, which will find it difficult to find the necessary funds for even one-off investments in ICT (be it hardware, software, technical support etc.)
set up a small initiatives funding agency to encourage small scale but worthwhile interim initiatives such as liquid crystal projectors in classrooms
stimulate and in some cases part-fund or match-fund ground breaking experiments, eg specialist computer rooms kitted out with the latest and best equipment for students with particular interests and aptitudes
ensure that external networking is devised in such a way that the growing number of computers in the home complement those in schools.
address the problem of access for children from disadvantaged families. Over the next decade we hope to see local authorities - with appropriate Government stimulus and experimentation - initially experimenting and then developing ways of giving access to computers to those who do not have them, eg.
investing more heavily in computers in schools on the basis that they can remain open to the community after school hours and at weekends.
loaning equipment to students outside school hours eg. low cost portable equipment such as palmtops
making community access available via computers in public libraries
private/public liaisons with operators of what have become to be known as "cyber cafs" with perhaps special access for schools
mobile buses containing state of the art equipment
The overall aim on funding should be to allocate the necessary funds to enable this initiative to succeed.
to allocate whatever it takes to get it right
although, in fact, it should not be a problem to meet the budgetary requirements of the initiatives we are suggesting related to
take the necessary steps to encourage other sources of funding and involvement that are consistent with the decentralised initiatives, eg.
including industry sponsorship
local fund-raising initiatives
... not to mention
to decide how and on what basis supplementary central funding should be made available to support certain initiatives, eg. earmarked funding mechanisms such as GEST.
© The Independent ICT in School Commission 1996/7. All rights reserved. Contents page