Programmes of Study for ICT

There is an interesting article by Terry Freedman discussing his thoughts concerning progammes of study for ICT. I must totally agree with what Terry is saying about schools being able to define their own ICT delivery for their own situations. But I hear you say that willbe problematic because where is the bench marking? Where is the sense of doing something right? Where will those head teachers who do not have a strategic vision for ICT get there information from? The article is rightly critical of the QCA but if you think about the time that it was written, many teachers needed something to work towards and something to give examples so they could make sense of the ICT curriculum which for many was an alien concept ( some would argue it still is). Now that was all well and good.I remember running a training session intorducing the QCA Scheme of Work and listening to year 6 teachers horrified at the prospect of delivering the scheme.

” Deliver it! I don’t even understand the words in the explanation. How I am I supposed to teach year 6 what I don’t even understand?” I pointed out that the best way would be to start where they felt comfortable and if that was with the Year 2 scheme of work then so be it. I pointed out that for year 6 and indfact other year groups there was no prior learning,pupils and teachers were starting from scratch and at he end of first year both would have experience and understanding to take into the next year. My belief at the time was that QCA was an experiment and as such could only be evaluated after the reception class pupils had been through the system so it would take 6/7 years.At that point we could evaluate the system and make changes. The problem came when teachers became relient on the prescriptive nature of the scheme and for one reason or another did not develop their own ‘capability’ exampled by the teacher who was upset that after the school had upgraded their network and computers,she had “lost my dress the teddy”. For her this was a really serious matter because she wouldn’t be able to tick the box as this was a program exampled in the Scheme of Work. There was no comprehension of  on screen simulation it was all about the program and the tick box.

We have now a real opportunity to develop ways of learning and ICT capability for the young people in our own schools.After all teachers know the ways to get the best out of their pupils.Developing a “school scheme of work”  around what the professionals in the school feel is the most appropriate way of learning for the children in the school is to be welcomed. If we then also develop aneffective “community of practice” and one of sharing and collaborating it would lead to an organic programme of study nationally where teachers can learn from each other and contribute the best of what works in their schools to be tried in other school.The communications avenues were not in place when the QCA scheme was started but we now have a quite robust communications network in education through twitter,blogs,wikis, teach-meets and others yet to be utilised in education. From this collaborative network will emerge acceptable standards, ways of approaching teaching and learning with ICT and a more fulfilling way of incorporating ICT into the curriculum to enhance the learning experience of our young people. Hopefully this will lead to teachers becoming more relaxed with technology? Only time will tell.

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