Lessons for the future

We are all familiar with the post-exam results cries of “GCSEs/A-levels are getting easier” after it emerges that the current crop of school-leavers have achieved the best-ever results.

This same attitude is creeping into the responses given to success by certain subjects in the school league tables, with the Conservatives announcing recently that they will present the results gained in traditional subjects – such as maths English and science – more prominently than ‘soft’ courses such as ICT and media studies. (Read story)

Some parts of the media also recoiled in horror after learning that students taking ICT to GCSE level outnumbered those taking maths, English and science. There were also knotted brows at the news that students were turning away from languages, presumably to take a course in (whisper it please) media studies.

So that’s it is it? Is our country going to the dogs? There are so many examples of hypocrisy and double-standards here, that I hardly know where to begin.

Let’s start with what the schools themselves prioritise. ICT tends to be one of the major areas of spend for a school budget – even if is only to replace old machinery – and an LG survey on the floor at BETT (read story) confirmed that teachers and ICT managers in school recognised the importance of ICT in the classroom. This ICT investment may not be to learn ICT as a subject – rather a tool in the classroom – but its importance seems obvious enough.

However, when it comes to preparing young adults for the real world, and equipping them with knowledge that will benefit them and the wider world, ICT no longer seems important, and ranks below science and languages in stories in the national press. A bit of a kick in the teeth to those teachers who are also responsible for spotting a young person’s strengths and guiding them down the relevant path don’t you think?

If ICT plays such an important part in the classroom, why do policy makers want to play down its importance in the league tables? The UK is a leader in educational ICT, which not only improves learning for generations to come in this country, but helps fuel a valuable export commodity. If we want to maintain this, then we need to prepare those future entrepreneurs adequately, which includes a good grounding in ICT.

I sometimes wonder if some education ministers would rather have us scratching out Latin conjugations on a slate, sat in rows in some cold and dusty classroom.

Nathan Bushell, editor

Invest or be left behind
Eighty-one per cent of key decision-makers in education believe it is ‘essential’ for schools, colleges and universities to be implementing innovative ICT solutions, while a further 17 % view it as ‘very important’; and 60% strongly agree with the view that ‘schools and colleges that fail to implement such solutions risk being left behind’.

These are among the key findings of LG Electronics’ On-the-Show-Floor User Survey, undertaken at BETT 2010 at London’s Olympia. The survey polled the opinions of 107 senior educational staff, comprising headteachers, teachers, bursars and IT managers from schools, colleges, universities, local education authorities and other government departments.

Underlining this emphasis on innovative technology, 58% of respondents are looking to increase their investment in ICT solutions over the next 12 months compared to just 14% who are planning to decrease it. Read More...

ICT triumphs over traditional subjects
Despite Ofsted warning that its value is doubtful, ICT has become the fourth most popular 14-19 course in English schools, TES reported this week. The news comes as a survey carried out on behalf of The National Centre for Languages (Cilt) suggests that fewer students are taking a GCSE in a modern language.

Charting a shift from traditional subjects to more modern ones, TES said that there had been a 669% rise in entries in the last two years, which means the OCR National level 2 in ICT has been used in more than half of secondaries, and is now being taken by more pupils than many GCSEs in maths, English and science.

Reasons given for the success of ICT over traditional courses included: they were enjoyable to teach; and students found them motivating and relevant.

Regarding the decline in the numbers of students taking a language onto GCSE level, Cilt suggested that schools are steering pupils towards subjects where they are likely to get top grades. Read More...

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:

The Right Gear for the Net

will be promoting its wireless networking on stand M16 at BETT next week.
The company will be showcasing its award-winning ProSafe, ReadyNAS and ProSecure education solutions and providing advice on how to successfully select and implement cost-effective ICT systems.

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.

Flexi-neck Visualiser launched
AVerMedia has released a new, high specification, autofocus flexi-neck Visualiser for Education.

These will be launched at the BETT 2010 Exhibition. The new CP range consists of Read More...

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,
More Here:

notgoingtouni's mission is to help today’s young people make informed career decisions and realise there are great opportunities outside of the traditional university route. We feature apprenticeships, training providers, distance learning, A level schemes, employer funded degree’s, course listings, advice, jobs and more.

Winning BETT
The winners of the BETT Awards 2010 were announced last week at a ceremony on the opening day of BETT. 
Organised by Emap, Becta and BESA (the British Educational Suppliers Association), the BETT Awards recognise and celebrate the best and most innovative technology solutions available for UK classrooms. Read More...

Exports target Middle East
Underlining the UK’s technological strength in the classroom, the Middle East Association will be leading a British trade mission to Egypt from 14-18 March 2010. The trade mission will focus on the Education/Training and ICT sectors, two key sectors earmarked for development by the Egyptian government.

Egypt is the third biggest market for UK

Prepare for the 21st century
Microsoft’s Partners in Learning programme is sponsoring the Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) research project. The research, led by SRI International, will investigate the effects that ICT has on transforming teaching and learning at the school and education system level.

Microsoft will make a $1 million investment each year in the study in partnership with the governments of Finland, Read More...

IT firm Northgate has won contracts in excess of £50 million with Blackburn with Darwen and Bolton Borough Council and Hartlepool Borough Council under the government's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

The Blackburn with Darwen and Bolton contract is valued at £41.3 million and will see 18 schools across Read More...

Nothing to be scared of
Isleofman.com reported on another technology event in London last week, in which students from two of the Isle of Man’s secondary schools helped present an image of the future.
Be Very Afraid is an annual gathering at which students from primary to university age talk about the extraordinary things they are doing with new technology in their learning. Read More...

ICT gift
The Bracknell Forest Standard reported a heart-warming philanthropic gesture this week, when a wholesale distributor donated a new batch of computer equipment to a local school.

Westcoast Computers handed over a number of notebook laptops, new server and software to staff at the Robert Piggott CE Infant School in Beverley Gardens. Read More...


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