Latest Announcement from the Department for Education

This week in the big house

filling form dwonderwall

Yesterday Michael Gove asked Ofsted to ditch the much loved SEF (Self Evaluation Form). The full article and statement with the relevant letter is here

I discussed this in a staff meeting last night with one of the Leicestershire primary schools we work with. After the delighted head left the room, one of the teachers raised an interesting point. She almost copied this sentence from the article We believe that teachers – not bureaucrats and politicians – should run schools without seeing it.

‘And you know what that means don’t you? It means that we’ll see big drops in money coming into schools. The heads will then have to reduce staff  and the politicians will be able to say it’s all the heads’ fault. Nothing to do with us. The Daily Mail will love it!’

I’ve deliberately tagged this blog post with words which the social media teams in the big house should find. Let’s see if they’re any good at finding stuff and secondly if they have a response to that comment. I suspect the space below will stay quite empty.

What do you think of that teacher’s comments?

And – by the way – has anyone else noticed that the revamped Department for Education website STILL does not have an obvious search feature?

Image © Dwonderwall creative commons


Becta – so near to linking up Britain?

Is this the saviour of schools broadband?

hallaton village2

Are you interested in the sustainability of internet connectivity in your school? What could the opportunities be?

I recently saw a tweet by Jon Hunt – whose website shows him to be an Education Broadband Specilaist. Jon had done some research through Becta’s website and highlighted 3 recent papers. if you’d like much more thorough analysis of these items, then Jon’s site is worth a look.

Response to Digital Britain is a fairly short document and contains some great ideas, especially in relation to rural schools – a significant minority of remote rural schools remain simply too expensive to connect to NGA. Ironically, their very remoteness means they are the schools with potentially the most to gain from next generation broadband access.  The paper shows technical ways in which a school could provide links to the community. Is there a simpler way for schools to share the burden of the cost of broadband AND help the local community – like renting out space? Why can’t a village primary school provide a desk, internet and work space for a fee? Safeguarding is clearly an issue, but if there was ever a time for school leaders to think outside the box – surely it’s now. What do you think?

Next Generation Access is – by it’s nature a weighty document. This document shows – amongst other things ideas where schools broadband could be opened up to local users in rural communities. I’ve been discussing this idea with headteachers for a few years – ‘just thinking out loud’. No headteacher has dismissed it yet as ridiculous.

Looking Ahead was published after the announcement of Becta’s closure and is (not surprisingly) somewhat briefer!  This short document picks up on some powerful points education broadband is the only available broadband in some areas … A heavy reliance on significant (and ongoing) contribution from schools – is this sustainable? … Fragmentation risk – schools/authorities opting out of RBC-/authority-led provision ..

Becta going – so who does it cost?

And why should it?

I’ve just been reading a very interesting web posting on EducationInvestor. You can see the whole article here

The article starts by recapping an entry in the Times Education Supplement recently where Roger Larson – the man behind the Fronter Learning Platform voices his concern that UK schools may not continue to develop at the same rate. He also mentions that the use of learning platforms isn’t what it could be.

Read what you want in to Mr Larson’s comments. It’s the last sentence in the article in the EducationInvestor that should make the alarm bells go off.

But sources in the technology sector have told EducationInvestor that the cuts could require them to sell direct to school, and force them to raise their prices. “

So – are the sources saying ‘Dear Investors, we’re a good bet. When Becta goes we’re going to raise our prices and blame Becta for keeping the prices artificially low?’

Should suppliers raise their game rather than raise their prices? What do you think?

Ofcom Bulletin – Another view of what’s happening

Issue 36 of the Media Literacy e-bulletin now available


The current bulletin has some great information and can be downloaded from Ofcom’s site here.

The sign off on the introductory page ‘Enjoy the last of the summer’ suggests they may have been preparing this for some time 🙂

Links to all the below items are in the bulletin itself.

‘Social Media Surgeries supporting the Big Society’ – looks particularly interesting, as I’m a trustee for a social enterprise. I’ve been advocating that voluntary sector organisations should really get on board with social networking. Interestingly, American business author, Jim Collins, regards some of the approaches needed in education to be similar to those needed in voluntary sectors.

Media Literacy Conference 2010 is appealing, but not free 😦 There looks like there’ll be some great speakers and very useful breakout sessions.

ActionFraud has a wake up call. In June this year they found that of all the reports they took where a fraud had actually taken place, 37% occurred online.

Do you want your share of £9,000 worth of kit? The BT Internet Ranger Schools Award will be made to a school or a group of schools who encourage young people, up to the age of 16, to use their ICT skills to help other people learn about computers and go online.

The Ofcom Communications Market Report includes these snippets – .. the over 55s are the fastest growing age group to adopt technology… 16-24s are the most efficient users of communications services as they squeeze 9.5 hours of media consumption into just over 6.5 hours actual time (we used to go to t’pub) ..

Other notes –
There’s a document on a major research into young people, the internet and credibility.
ClickCeop for Facebook has now been downloaded 55,000 times.
Details of various related seminars and meetings are also included.

Links to all the items are in the bulletin itself – available here

Next Steps for Becta

Dignified Exit? (From Becta today)

The priority for Becta is a well managed closure, which:

Read more of this post

Strategy and Tactics – so what?

Joined up thinking (lack of) – not exclusive to the public sector

Business ideas and developments fascinate me. Military history fascinates me. So what has that got to do with ICT in Primary Education?

Maybe quite a lot.

In military terms, strategy is what you do before a battle. This was (in)famously carried out in the First World War by the senior officers sat too far back. Mesopotnia by Rudyard Kipling makes a good read on this subject.

A more powerful example of strategy was employed by Hannibal in the battles at Lake Trasimene and at Canae – Wikipedia has long articles on both. Basically Hannibal made use of information in a much better way than his Roman counterparts and organised, fought and won the battles on his terms. (if you’re covering Romans and have some year 6 G&T who want to do something exciting – these are worth a look).

Tactics are what you do during the battle. This is when the commander in the field has to take control and make decisions which hopefully win the battle and fit with the long term strategy of the powers that be.

So much for military – what about business?

Here’s a business most people can understand – most people reading this blog have cars. I used to work in the car industry, when we still had one.

Car companies became obsessed with a strategy of growth – ‘the business will grow by x% in the next z years’. To grow any business in the face of terrific competition AND a changing environment – keep reading – is challenging.

When I was a lad a family friend had a Vauxhall with 100,000 miles on the clock. This was such a feat that he received a ‘5 9s’ tie from Vauxhall. In a few months my current Peugeot is likely to be the 4th car I’ve had with over 100,000 miles. So – if cars are lasting longer, surely  a growth strategy is even tougher?

The strategy converts into the sales tactics and marketing activities you then enjoy at the local car dealers.

What lessons / ideas do these tales offer to ICT in education?

For more insights in how business thinking MUST transfer to education – see my other blog

After Becta then what?

Forewarned is forearmed

The news a few weeks ago regarding the planned closure of Becta was a shock to many.

If you’re reading this blog – then there’s a fair chance that you are interested in ICT in Primary Schools. there’s also a fair chance that you’re keen to know “What next?”.

There’s a business technique called “Weak Signal Monitoring” which I cover in this post in my business blog.

So here’s what a weak signal found recently


Their full report is here

Budget 2010

Now for something completely different

The budget may have come as a terrible shock for many. I was surprised by the ferocity of it, but not the message.

Vince Cable, the journalists in the Economist and the various ‘Think tanks’ have been advocating tough approaches for some time.

Here’s the question. What would schools and parents like ICT suppliers like ourselves to offer in the light of these announcements?

Here’s a few thought to start the ball rolling-

Freeze on current charges
Help schools to optimise their current investments
Help schools to optimise use of free software / websites
Host / facilitate mini teach meets
Provide cost-effective business training to schools staff

What would you like?

Another thought on Becta Planned Closure

Here is a slightly more progressive take on the government’s plans to close Becta

“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Alice Through the Looking Glass “… the grand narrative has lost its credibility, regardless of what mode of unification it uses, regardless of whether it is a speculative narrative or a narrative of emancipation.” Jean-François Lyotard After 14 years of service to education, the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) is being retired.  Becta was … Read More

via Coherence of the inchoate