Maintaining a balance

The school where I am governor starts its Ofsted inspection this week. I’m very confident that they will do well – a lot of effort has gone into producing a comprehensive Self Evaluation Form, and improving the areas that Ofsted highlighted as being not quite as strong as desired in its last report.

When I first joined the board of governors, I was worried that maybe too much time was spent filling in forms – that maybe the children’s education was being sacrificed for looking good for the next inspection.

I needn’t have worried. The school benefits from an excellent senior management team, a competent teaching staff, and enjoys a close relationship with parents and the wider community. This creates a warm and secure environment for the pupils, and my own children enjoy themselves there.

However, box-ticking can be pernicious, as the actions by one NHS Trust proved this week.

An independent inquiry claimed the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust had become so driven by targets and cost-cutting, that patients were left sobbing and humiliated by uncaring staff.

A drive to climb the ratings ladder had led to there being at least 400 more deaths at the Trust than expected between 2005 and 2008.

Was the Trust doing the right thing? It was, after all, trying to prove itself in a profession that is coming under greater scrutiny, and using tools that it had been given by the government. It appeared that healthcare got buried in among the paperwork.

Imagine if this was in the education sector – that children’s welfare was ignored because a school was trying to do the right thing? Much has been said in this column recently about maintaining the balance between internet safety and the freedom to learn, so maybe we should take heed of a case in the United States where one school spied on a child in their home using the computer they had been sent home with.

According to reports, the school believed the child was engaged in improper behaviour in his home, and used photographic evidence, taken with the computer’s own webcam, as proof. The school back-tracked, saying that a remote tracking feature was activated on the device, which only has a limited purpose of locating a lost, stolen or missing laptop.

What this comes down to is the potential loss of a computer, or the loss of privacy. Which is more important?

Nathan Bushell, editor

Online exclusion drives youngsters away

The Government was told today (Thursday 4 March) that the long-term future of the countryside is in jeopardy because so many young people are being forced out of rural areas to find homes, jobs and support.

The alert comes from Dr Stuart Burgess − the government’s rural advocate – based on evidence he has gathered from communities in all parts of rural England about the fears, aspirations, challenges and needs of young rural England.

In a report being delivered directly to the Prime Minister, Dr Burgess said: “Wherever I go, I hear deep concerns − that challenges with housing, work, transport, training and social exclusion are preventing young people from living in the countryside. Without young people to provide a work force, rural economies are unable to fulfil their full potential and rural communities can go into a decline. Read More...

IT support staff to get qualified

Becta will launch as independent organisation to provide qualifications and career progression for 23,000 school IT support staff.

This month, Becta is launching FITS (Framework for ICT Technical Support ) as an independent, not-for-profit organisation providing National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) to IT technicians in schools. FITS was previously run by Becta.

There are estimated to be 23,000 school IT technicians in the country, which is the largest professional group behind teachers and teaching assistants. The launch of FITS provides this workforce with the chance to develop their careers and gain nationally recognised qualifications. Read More...

iboards stimulate pupils’ learning

TES Resources is working to raise standards in education through hosting free teaching resources and sharing best practice online. One such resource is the TES iboard.

TES iboard activities are highly visual, open-ended, interactive resources, all available free online at www.tes.co.uk/tes-iboard

Subscription-free support
Netop is offering Netop OnDemand for a free 30-day trial.

Netop OnDemand provides an instant, expert support when the user needs it, regardless of location, firewalls or networks. 

Licence Dashboard – a case study
Longcroft School first welcomed young people in September 1949. In the intervening years the school has gone from strength-to-strength, including the achievement of performing arts specialist college status in 2001.

Inclusive education
RM, as part of the Skanska RM consortium, has been chosen as the preferred ICT partner for the Essex BSF programme, one of the largest in the country.

Inclusive Technology and SpaceKraft, both part of the RM Group, worked with the consortia and the schools to ensure that Essex will have the most forward thinking

Pebble to cause ripples

Interactive Education will be showcasing its new hand-held learning response system at the Education Show, stand N55, NEC Birmingham from 4th-6th March 2010.

The new handset is called Pebble as it has a streamlined design which is easy to grip, so is ideal for early years and special educational needs students.

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.

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,
More Here:

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Removing barriers to learning
£90m of extra funding has been announced by the government to help young people in the most rural areas study for a diploma.

Iain Wright MP said that the investment would build on the progress already being made in rural areas to deliver the 14-19 reforms by ensuring that young people living in rural and semi-rural areas – where public transport systems may be less developed, Read More...

Shortage of digital skills
Europe suffers from a chronic shortage of digital skills across all sectors. A study released by empirica and IDC EMEA Government Insights revealed that EU labour market may face an excess demand of 384,000 ICT practitioners by 2015, reported the eGovMonitor.
The ICT sector currently represents 3% of European employment, 5% of European GDP, and 26% of research Read More...

Academy open day

Partnerships for Schools (PfS) recently held the first academy-focused open day at the award-winning Academy 360 in Sunderland.

The new all-through Academy 360 opened in 2009 as part of Sunderland's innovative BSF project and was showcased to a national audience as part of a BSF Open Day on February 26. Read More...

Best of Britain at GESS
The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) returned to GESS (Guld Educational Supplies and Solutions to bring visitors the UK Pavilion, a dedicated zone featuring over 30 of Britain’s most successful and innovative educational suppliers.

Taking place in Dubai, GESS ran from 23 to 25 February bringing together international educationalists and suppliers. Read More...

BESA seminar
BESA seminar is taking place in London on March 18. It will be a briefing on how the Technology Strategy Board can help business in educational technology, and to ask for your input on the direction of some potential large-scale future funding.

BESA has announced that there are only 25 places available, and that delegates should confirm their places as soon as possible. Read More...

Making ICT management easy
The Manor Community College in Cambridge chose the Citrix Provisioning Server to manage the IT provision across the school.

The college is a mixed community school in Cambridge with 140 students. The school has a blended network of 350 workstations, made up of 110 thin clients and the rest being traditional clients. The school achieved specialist status for creative and Read More...

Mobile messaging connects parents and pupils
London-based Breakthru Marketing has created a new platform that marries technology, classroom activity, and parental participation – a communication platform that connects parents and pupils with teachers via mobile text messaging (SMS).

Using any mobile phone connected to any carrier, parents connect with the Mobile Homework platform Read More...


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