ICT in UK Schools: Contents page

Appendix A: The Commission and its work

1 Our brief has been to advise Tony Blair and David Blunkett on the key priorities and directions the next Government should take in developing the use of ICT in primary and secondary schools. Please note:

They did not ask us to produce a blue print and we have not done so; that should be done by the Government in power.

They asked us to work independently of the Labour Party and that the members of the commission should be chosen for their relevant skills and not their political affiliations.

2 The Commission's membership has been:
Dennis Stevenson,
Chairman GPA plc & Chairman Elect Pearson Group
Dr Iain Anderson,
Director, Unilever
Nicholas Berwin,
Director, Deutsche Morgan Grenfell
Professor Stephen Heppell,
Head of Ultralab, Anglia Polytechnic University
Nicholas Summers,
recently retired from the Department for Education and Employment (DFEE)
Christine Whatford,
Director of Education, London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.
Dr David Winkley,
Headteacher, Grove Primary School, Birmingham

3 Advisors aside from the invaluable work done by the McKinsey team (see below) the team has had as a key adviser, Josh Hillman, of the IPPR; we are immensely grateful both to him and the IPPR for releasing him. Although he has not been a formal adviser, we would like to acknowledge the assistance given to us by Bill Freyenfeld, Immediate Past Chairman of the Real Time Club, who has been particularly helpful in giving us the benefit of his own parallel work in this area. Our work has been managed very ably by Clare Crean of SRU Ltd.

4 Our work has had two main sources of knowledge and stimulation.

A six month study by a McKinsey team working "pro bono" carrying out an independent analysis of the state of ICT in schools.

The results from an extensive evidence gathering exercise with evidence received from over a hundred interested parties.

Appendix B: Extract from a speech given by Tony Blair announcing the establishment of the Independent Inquiry on the 1st May 1996.

Expert Panel on New Technology

I am determined that in government we do not make false and costly moves. But I am also determined that we do not suffer such delays that our vision turns out to be a mirage. That is why I can announce today that in Opposition, we are making plans to ensure that we are able to proceed in government with efficient speed.

Last year, I approached Dennis Stevenson, a leading businessman and Chairman of the Trustees of the Tate Gallery, to ask his advice about how we could realise the vision I set out at Labour Party conference. He has made a thorough analysis of the issue and has suggested that the subject needs to be addressed via a thorough appraisal by independent experts in related fields, brought together to establish a strategy for action. I am therefore pleased to announce therefore that David Blunkett and I are establishing, under Dennis Stevenson's chairmanship, an expert panel of teachers, business people, financiers and educationalists to report to us on the options for development of our vision. The job of the panel will not be to second guess what will in the end be work of civil servants. It would be foolish to ask them to produce a blueprint - not least because of the rate of change of this technology.

Instead, I have asked them to summarise the current situation (both good and bad); to look objectively at the benefits; to identify what they see as the main technological choices and how we should approach them; to look at the consequences for the curriculum, teacher training and school organisation; and finally to look at how this can be funded using public-private partnership.

The panel will work independent of the party, and its members have been chosen for the particular expertise and experience they bring to the task, not for party affiliation: what counts is their potential to make a major contribution to the lives and education of many millions of young children in the future.

Dennis Stevenson is currently assembling the group to work with him. He brings a sharp and independent mind to all problems and he will provide excellent leadership for this important project. The Panel will include key thinkers and practitioners from education, industry and finance. They will be working through the summer to produce their report. Their work will put us in a position to get straight to work if we are elected to form a Government.

Any initiative of this kind must of course be rooted in the wealth of good practice that already exists. Every school I go into has a good idea, a different way of doing things, an innovative approach, and I am determined that a Labour government builds on the good that exists, and ensures that it is widely spread. We need to set a vision, and then see it through over time.

Education in Britain needs a new partnership based on high expectations and support for success. This conference is part of that process. So is the new expert panel on the new technology in the classroom. What government can bring to this process is vision, commitment, leadership, as well as resources. I look forward to working with you closely in the future to ensure that all our children get an education which prepares them for the next century and not the last.

Appendix C: Request for evidence


From: Dennis Stevenson, CBE

22 July 1996

78-80 St John Street, London EC1M 4HR
Telephone: 0171 250 1131 Fax: 0171 250 1952
E-Mail: dennis@sru.co.uk

I am writing to ask you to submit written evidence to the independent inquiry that I am chairing into the use of IT in schools.

The inquiry was set up at the suggestion of Tony Blair earlier this year. You will see from the enclosed extract from his speech that it has been set up independently of the Labour Party with the objective of ensuring that IT is introduced in to schools in the UK in the best possible way irrespective of the politics of the day.

We are writing to a number of key individuals and organisations in the hope that they will provide us with their views. We will also have the benefit of an independent report being carried out for us by the management consulting firm, McKinsey & Co.

We are anxious to make the process of submitting evidence as easy as possible. I enclose a suggested structure for your reply. However, please respond as best suits you and; do leave gaps, use bullet points, note form or any other style, send back as hard copy or on the internet (E-mail clare@sru.co.uk).

Please call us with any queries (initially to Clare Crawshay-Williams who is co-ordinating the work on 0171 250 1131). If humanly possible, we hope to receive all evidence by the end of August. However, please let us know if you face problems with the deadline.

I do hope you will be able to contribute your views. This is an area of huge long term significance and your contribution will be very much appreciated.

With best wishes

Yours sincerely

Dennis Stevenson


Note: Please treat the following headings as indicative. You may well have other formats you want to follow or other issues you want to add.

1 What is your experience/understanding of the current state of play of IT in schools and the role played by computers in the home? What is your perception of the key impediments and facilitators to further developments?

Here we are looking for general perceptions. We are also looking for:

As much factual feedback as you are able to supply on any subject (be it numbers per pupil, costs, usage, training etc.).

We are also looking for hard examples of best practice, typical problems, etc.

2 Why is IT, in terms of all its potential purposes, a good thing in schools? What are the real benefits at different stages of school education? What are the illusions about it? And, if relevant, what are the dangers or downsides?

Again we are looking for general observations. We are also looking for the differences between different applications of IT. And we are particularly interested in:

Hard examples of successful application.

General views as to how to measure success.

3 What are the best ways of achieving IT in schools in terms of the systems, software and hardware? If that question is too simpliste (which it almost certainly is!), what are the real choices?

As well as general observations, we are also particularly interested in:

Computer infrastructure.

(a) Platform choices.

(b) Home vs classroom.

Network infrastructure.


(a) Role of software.

(b) On going support for applications.

And if and how any these should be standardised in some way and by whom?

4 What are the implications for teaching staff?

Here again we are looking for perceptions of current reality; as well as suggestions/ prescriptions for:

What should be done to accelerate (what sort of) training of teachers and encourage implementation and development over the longer term.

What should the relationship be between teacher, children and software?

Over what sort of timescale? etc.

5 What are the funding implications?

We need to come to views as to the costs (over defined periods of time) of different options. Any help towards this will be gratefully received!

Separately from that we are open to all thoughts as to how the funding could be arranged. Is it just a matter of increasing or reallocating existing schools' budgets? Are there effective "partnerships" between private and public? Do you know of/have any partnership of this kind?

6 What should be the role of Government, national and local?

Reading some commentators/politicians one gets the impression that, if Central Government gathers up its courage, decides what to do and increases its budgets, it will "solve" the problem. In practice what is/should the decision making process be? What is going to be the balance between central/local? Should standards and systems be uniform across the country or to what degree should they be flexible?

This report has been produced and funded by Dennis Stevenson, the Chairman of the Commission.

Any enquiries should be addressed to his office, initially to Allyson Gaskin (Personal Assistant) or Michelle Allen (Secretary) at:

68 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5ES, Tel: 0171 976 2870 (General) Fax: 0171 976 2875 E-Mail: ally@maxima.demon.co.uk, michelle@maxima.demon.co.uk

© The Independent ICT in School Commission 1996/7. All rights reserved. Contents page