Sunday, 5 October 2008

My colleague Peter Harris, headteacher at Farsley Farfield Primary School sent me this over the weekend...

"Dear Chris, I had a meeting with Richard Boughey yesterday and it was a thoroughly inspiring and interesting 75 minutes. Such meetings are rare. It probably helped that we seemed to share a wider interest in energy efficiency/greener ways of working. We were also both very concerned about the 'digital divide' and we are committed to finally addressing this.

I do think that we have lacked leadership as regards ICT for a number of years - I'm not sure that primary school head teachers generally understand what Education Leeds' vision for the future is. The structure for ICT leadership and dissemination of information is vague and relatively ineffective I think. The funding for INSET in ICT compares very, very unfavourably with the level of input into other National Strategies initiatives that will see most teachers getting a couple of days training in maths and literacy over the next two terms with supply cover included. With this in mind, it seems sad that my head teacher colleagues have insisted that the Harnessing Technology grant is devolved almost entirely to schools. That will probably just shift a few more boxes at RM or PC World - where is the innovation? Where is the reflection? What was your line on this? I know that you like to avoid controversial subjects like this on your blog, but you do have influence!

As regards my own school, I continue to be delighted by the huge efforts of my teachers every week to summarise the content of their lessons and set homework on the (under-funded) learning platform. Feedback from parents is very good. We regularly link to video resources, online games and class photo galleries. We have subscribed ourselves to Education City, including the Homework Module, and each child has taken home their own Pass Card. We are also using Lexia Reading online at home with selected children. I shall use my share of the Harnessing Technology grant to buy a few laptops with 3G internet connection to lend to my poorest families whilst we wait for Family IT vouchers to hopefully gallop over the horizon next financial year. I also disagree with my headteacher colleague about email - I find it very quick to use, especially with the new email client from LLN that has recent recipients in the left hand pane. I like to see what my colleagues are receiving - perhaps I am a control freak? Deleting and forwarding email is very quick. Best wishes, Peter"

I think Peter is right and he lays down a challenge to all of us. I know Richard Boughey and colleagues are working to develop ownership and engagement with headteachers around the development of ICT across Leeds. But, perhaps we haven't had enough leadership in this critical area which has the potential to transform learning and learning outcomes and is massively under-resourced by all of us; in terms of development, training and investment. And, you are right that the answer isn't to divide up the funding so that everyone can buy another couple of laptops. So how do we tackle this and drive the development of ICT for learning across Leeds?

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