Rewarding excellence

There’s a heavy emphasis on awards and competitions this week: Besa’s Educational Resource Awards [Read story here]; Becta is calling for entrants to its 2010 ICT Excellence Awards [Read story here]; and Viglen launches its sunflower competition [Read story here].

Part of me used to be quite cynical about awards and competitions – probably because I never used to win anything. I tended to think that all that back-slapping was of no benefit to anyone, except for the people doing the slapping, and those getting slapped.

But in today’s exploding technological world, there needs to be something to separate the wheat out from the chaff.

Anyone who visited BETT2010 will appreciate the size of the industry, and for many buyers of ICT equipment, scouring the market for relevant equipment to help in the classroom is like wandering into a sweet shop. They can get so excited about the new and exciting products that it is difficult to think clearly about how suitable they are for their learning environments.

Awards – like Becta’s and Besa’s – help schools to properly appreciate technology in real life, and understand how it can help them meet the requirements of the curriculum. A headteacher weighing up the pros and cons about a new piece of interactive software will have their mind made up if they learned the developers had been shortlisted for an award, and they saw the software being used in a classroom.

Then you have competitions like Viglen’s which focus the attention of the pupils – in this case marrying the natural world with the virtual one – and offer real benefits for those taking part. Many schools won’t win, but the process of nurturing plants and recording their growth online should bring its own rewards.

Nathan Bushell, editor

Technology helps green shift
Becta is showing its commitment to the government's Zero Carbon Taskforce by working closely with schools to ensure their ICT usage is managed efficiently.

Becta said that it recognises the potential environmental impact when using ICT in schools, and has developed a range of guidelines and initiatives to allow schools to cut their carbon emissions and encourage sustainable ICT.

Becta has developed the Framework for ICT Technical Support (FITS) to improve the management of ICT services in education.  Professional qualifications for ICT technicians are now also available and include a process for energy conservation, which helps trained technicians cut the amount of power used by school ICT.

In addition, Becta has developed and is disseminating tools which encourage the better use of computer power to help schools to monitor their usage.  For example, Becta's ICT carbon footprint comparison tool compares the electricity used by different ICT products allowing schools to increase efficiency. Read More...

Technology workforce will boost UK's economic recovery
While many view ICT in the classroom as an aid to learning, many see it as a future skill in its own right. This view is supported by news this week from e-skills UK, the Sector Skills Council for Business and Information Technology, whose research shows that a highly skilled technology workforce could be the solution to the UK's economic recovery.

Employment in the UK's technology workforce has continued to increase, despite the recession, and continued investment in technology and technology skills are crucial to help the UK’s economic recovery, e-skills UK claimed.

The research, 'Technology Counts: IT & Telecoms Insights 2010', shows that employment in the UK's technology workforce has grown, with one in 18 people working in the UK employed in the sector. “The IT and Telecoms professional workforce has grown at twice the UK average over the past eight years, to reach over 1.1 million people today, and even using conservative post-recession figures, the number of IT and Telecoms professionals employed is forecast to grow at an average of four times the UK rate over the next ten years,” the organisation said. Read More...

Top of their game
Reseller Apex has secured a six-figure deal with Clyst Vale Community College to add a virtualisation capability to its IT infrastructure, it was reported this week.

The college's existing infrastructure was hampered by 15 servers racked in a small room with limited space for expansion and an increasingly expensive air conditioning bill.

Filtered out
Brightfilter, provider of web filtering solutions to the education sector, demonstrated its latest range of products at BETT 2010. Visitors were invited to stand B59 to experience the range of solutions for protecting pupils online, including:

Redstor launches Protector
Redstor, a managed services and IT solutions company, has announced the launch of its new backup and security service, Redstor Protector.

Specially designed for the education market this service secures and protects

Ambitious ideas

e-skills UK, the Sector Skills Council for Business and Information Technology recently launched a new programme.

Smart learning at BETT
Designed to engage and motivate learners from Foundation Stage through to Key Stage 3 in Phonics, ICT, Literacy, PSHE & Citizenship and English, Smart Learning’s resources are tailored to meet the needs of each independent learner.

Real-time school data management

Hyperspheric Solutions has launched Stars 4 Schools — School Tracking, Assessment and Reporting System – at BETT 2010. Locally launched in July 2009, Stars 4 Schools enables the flow of data from mark sheets to students’ reports and whole-school statistics.

The ease of embedded software

De-LTA is the new software from Empowering Confidence, which allows teachers to create re-usable learning objects from video material.

The company claims that 40% of students have a visual learning preference, which is usually satisfied by videos.

Software update
Crick Software will release a new feature in its WriteOnline software, in 2010.

WriteOnline is an online word processor for education that provides support features for learners of all abilities from upper primary pupils to .

Projected learning
Epson has launched its first range of ultra-short-throw projectors designed to meet the growing demand for easy-to-use ICT equipment in classrooms.

The company said the new models are ideal for use with

Putting education on the map

ESRI has launched ‘GIS for Schools’, a new programme offering improved access to GIS (Geographic Information Systems) in the classroom.

Designed to help students learn more effectively, the

School Business Manager

for a busy school in Swindon. The ideal candidate would have worked within a school but not essential transferable skills welcome. You will be CCAB qualified and would have knowledge and skills in the following: Finance and Budget management, IT and SIMS
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ICT Manager

required for Secondary School based in Surrey to support the entire Schools network infrastructure, servers and workstations. Manage the Schools ICT staff, including training and appraisal. Provide advice on networking, purchasing and any relevant contractors. Develop, implement and monitor the
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Education ICT Support Service is currently looking for a Field Based ICT Engineer.

You will be working alongside Schools in maintaining and developing ICT in line with the Becta Frame Work. You will be responsible for visiting Schools and carrying out hardware, software installations, basic administration, health checks, fault trouble shooting,
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The ICT Excellence Awards are open for entries
Schools across the UK are being encouraged to put themselves forward for Becta's 2010 ICT Excellence Awards.

Now in their fifth year, the ICT Excellence Awards acknowledge UK schools approaching technology Read More...

Education Resources Awards 2010 shortlist released
The UK’s most outstanding educational resources, suppliers, educators and institutions have today been selected as finalists for the Education Resource Awards (ERAs) 2010.

Organised by the British Educational Suppliers Association (Besa) and Affinity Media, the ERAs Read More...

Viglen launches sunflower competition
Viglen has announced that it will be launching the See IT Grow competition for UK-based primary and secondary schools.

Across spring and summer 2010, Viglen will be nurturing some of the country's budding young gardeners Read More...

ICT educators must be 'more engaging'
Children are not being properly engaged by the way that ICT is taught in schools, it has been claimed.

This is extremely detrimental to the sector, which is constantly growing and needs new blood and ideas, Read More...

RM wins Essex
Educational software and services provider RM, has been selected by Essex County Council to provide information and communication technology (ICT) services for the County's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

The Essex BSF programme is considered to be one of the largest in the country, the first phase of Read More...


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