6 May 2009


In a thoughtful piece by Ben Williamson in Flux he considers the implications for ITT of the recommendations of the The Children, Schools and Families select committee National Curriculum Enquiry. The committee recommends putting a limit on the amount of time learners spend on the prescribed National Curriculum at 50% so that teachers can plan a curriculum for the remaining time. Williamson considers what teachers might need to know in order to become curriculum planners "given that teacher training has been quite theory light in the last couple of years". In addition to studying curriculum theory he also ventures that:
"it does seem important to me that teachers do engage with the dominant theories not only of teaching but of knowledge in our era. If using ICT within a curriculum, it’s important to recognise how knowledge is constructed, circulated, and contested, since ICT allows claims to “knowing” to be made by almost anyone."
All sensible thoughts and worth considering further (as I will in a later post). But if we expected teachers to have awareness and understanding of current theories of epistemology how might they acquire this in the limited teaching time in ITT courses or by CPD?

As we have have already witnessed trying to extend the utilisation of technology in schools managing change and implementing strategy is fraught with difficulty. More than ten years after this government began to invest in educational technology Becta's research is only just beginning to show modest impact on learning. Training non-ICT teachers to use technology in the classroom is still left in the main to the lottery of which school teachers train in and utilisation of technology and ICT by individual teachers across the curriculum has been inconsistent at best as well subject to local system and environment variables.

With the Rose review recommending that ICT replaces Science as a core (and assessed) strand of the primary curriculum and that ICT should be embedded in every subject we need to ask ourselves whether we have the wherewithal to make this happen. There are very significant risks here (although of course, the risk of not developing ICT is also very significant).

Becta's submission to the Rose review is absolutely on-strategy for their Harnessing Technology: Next Generation Learning 2008-14 follow up to the e-strategy and is full of reassurance that 'Becta can help' with a variety of difficult transformations. But research by Sero Consulting and the University of Nottingham set in motion by Becta to track the development of technology and identify significant disruptions to their strategy identifies no less than 24 emerging disruptions. Here's just one:
"Emerging disruptions
Over the coming years, it is necessary to analyse the extent to which the promise of major capital investment programmes is being realised, identify any barriers to achieving the full potential of the strategy, and assess whether the contractual arrangements that schools enter into for managed services are sufficiently flexible to support the innovation that is likely to be needed in respect of the impact of Web 2.0 technologies and the Net Generation of learners. Changing technologies, teaching practices and environmental concerns could make new school buildings inappropriate and in need of major structural change. A significant concern is how to design for continual flexibility"

I'm particularly interested in managed services as there do seem to be rather a lot of questions over the flexibility and efficacy of the current offerings and several schools feel that they are being asked to pay more than their current costs for a less valuable service. With 23 other 'emerging disruptions' the report is well worth reading as predicting, responding to and managing these disruptions are some of the biggest issues facing education today. Our record managing educational change to date does not put us in the top set.


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