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 ..

Big Society – Another View

Your carriage awaits

Where are we really heading?

Proceed with caution


Wearing three hats* I found the latest blog post from ResPublica somewhat intriguing. The full article is here. if you are interested in the way the decision influencers are thinking – I believe the article is worth reading. That doesn’t mean I agree with it.

It’s difficult to argue with the individual comments and ideas in ‘Power to change the future’ by Mark Pack but there seems to be a lack of co-ordination in the article. This seems to be the same lack of co-ordination that says ‘Remove lumps of the Harnessing Technology Grant mid-stream and use the money to fund free schools’.

Dominant suppliers, directors hiding behind commercial confidentiality and the House of Lords gravy train are all considered – along with early years education.

If I was a journalist I may say – ‘If you’re looking for cracks in the Con-LibDem alliance – here they are’. I’m not, so I won’t.

*I run a company based in Leicestershire. We are based in a voluntary sector hub – as part of that agreement I’m a trustee of the charity. In addition to that, the majority of our customers are primary schools in our surrounding area. (Therefore I’m keenly interested in anything that may affect small businesses, the voluntary sector and primary education).

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

The End of Broadband in Schools?

The bit they tried to sneak out

In last night’s statement / debate one of the final points of order raised was that the Minister had made a very brief comment on an item that was in a press release. Here – in it’s entirety – is what that brief statement was all about.

I think this statement signals the end of Regional Broadband Cosortia, Standard Network Build rules and the National Education network – look at the the areas I’ve bold-italicised

If you would like more information, please reply using the comment box.

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Education Funding Statement

This lot can’t half talk

The Political and Constitutional Reform Statement was seriously grim watching – they didn’t half bang on. A much better use of energy would be to get the non voters to vote!

Will the education information be squeezed in at some stage? Started at 3:51

Teach First – to be doubled from 560 to 1140 (with 300 going in to challenging primaries). And make sure you read the last bit of this post regarding the odd £1billion

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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

Choice in Education

Review of Economist Article June 26th 2010

In a short article The Economist has picked out a number of surveys and comments to provide an overview to government thinking on free schools.
Starting by commenting that Estelle Morris had noted that education has been shaped more by political expediency than by evidence of what actually works they then pick up on the Swedish model which is being regularly touted.
Michael Gove’s aim is stated as raising standards in state schools by allowing competition to flourish.

According to the article, of the 700 groups .. many of those wanting to establish new schools are ambitious teachers working in poor areas. Looking on the website of the New Schools Network that information isn’t obvious. Does their address look familiar? Here’s the list from the Department for Education

There is a balance in their article where they quote some research by Rebecca Allen at the Institute of Education – I think this is her article.

What do you  think?

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