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Having just read the Guardian article on the demise of BECTA and the preceived opportunities that this brings I feel compelled to correct some miscomprehensions.

Whenever, there is a wrong which needs righting, and let's face it, there is much about ICT learning which is wrong, we always tend to look for a one hit magic bullet. Today it is the demise of BECTA which will ensure that standards rise.

Interestingly the article talks predominantly about secondary ICT teaching and herein lies the problem.

Secondary school ICT teaching is led and determined by the need to measure progress in tests. Therefore we dumb down the curriculum to ensure that what the Government needs to have tested is easily tested. The ultimate I guess is to test how well a child uses a software package. Oh, hang on, that's what we do!!!

How on earth do you then test creativity, imagination and innovation? Ultimately you can't, but that shouldn't stop us striving to create the environment that allows these qualities to thrive. This isn't the fault of secndary education as schools respond to the system of accountability and how they are judged.

On the other hand primary schools don't have testing requirements for ICT which means that creativity, imagination and innovation flourish and thrive and children create things that are beyond their wildest dreams. When we were recently assessed for the BECTA Quality Mark for ICT, one of my Year 6 children said that he comes to school because he loves ICT and because this is a feature of his learning across the curriculum. He can create stuff beyond the restrictions of the National Curriculum because we encourage children to think outside the box.

In two weeks time he will move into a system which is stifled by Government interference, testing and an obsession with measuring which creates children ready for the demands of the Industrial revolution. How on earth is he going to cope with the loss of his ability to be creative, to be innovative and the imagine his own solutions when he is shoe horned into a Microsoft Office production line?

So, instead of looking around for easy targets like BECTA, let's make the tough decisions for our kids that they deserve and change the system.

Industry bemoans the lack of creativity and innovation in school leavers and this is because we assess in ICT at KS3 to products which have limited creative use. Tests merely compound this situation in forcing schools to dance to the testing tune of the DfE. Essentially we do what we've always done and get what we've always had, and we're surprised! In the meantime the DCSF/ DfE look for scapegoats to blame. Teachers usually get the blame, schools generally and now BECTA but ultimately it is the system which DfE have created which is wrong.

Do the DfE want schools to deliver creativity and innovation? If so they have to withdraw their obsession with old fashioned tests and find new ways to measure innovation and creativity. Where there's a will there's a way but is there a will?

Schools want to go down this route to make improvements to ICT learning but DfE have to be on board.

In the meantime we do what we've always done and get what we've always had, politicians are surprised, blame easy targets and round we go again.

We are at a pivotal moment and every year wasted impacts on thousands of children's life chances.

DfE it's time to grasp the nettle!

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Comment by andy mellor on August 19, 2010 at 5:57am
I agree and if we don't provide the government with an alternative model of assessing pupil progress in ICT then they will go with the same as, because some schools will just drop it because they find it difficult to embrace.
I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that the assessment of ICT needs to be built around three areas. These being creative, innovative and confidence in the use of ICT to support learning across the curriculum with examples or for instances supporting each area. Levelling just won't work as this learning development isn't now sequential.
Comment by Phil Bagge on August 18, 2010 at 9:03am
You are right about the dominance of literacy and numeracy in KS2. Danger is with little ICT guidance some will just drop it and their pupils will lose these opportunities. Others will reassess and drag ICT curriculum into the present, embracing the web whilst encouraging good cyber citizenship.
Comment by andy mellor on August 18, 2010 at 5:31am
Roger, my concern is that not only do this current government not seem interested, they seem to have a Dead Poet's Society approach to education where 40 children in rows with Sir dishing out his knowledge seems to e the preferred style.

We have to hope that someone is listening and this strikes a chord with someone with power as we will get what we've always had over the next 5 years and more students will not get their entitlement to a stimulating and creative ICT curriculum which sees ICT as a tool for learning across the curriculum.
Comment by andy mellor on August 18, 2010 at 5:27am
I agree Phil.
For those schools who are working beyond the national curriculum and find it outdated, then assessing pupil progress is a real problem. My concern is that successive governments have dumbed down a curriculum to one which the can assess, no matter how poor the provision for the children. The students miss out on a vibrant curriculum so that the governement get a rod to beat schools. But for ICT read Maths and English at KS2!
Comment by Phil Bagge on August 18, 2010 at 3:37am
I think the real test for this UK gov/e (forgive the poor pun) is around the amount of prescription they build into their new revision of the national curriculum. If it allows teachers to evaluate new technology in light of learning needs of pupils and encourages flexibility then it could be a real step in the right direction. If this is truly possible in a testing regime I am not sure. I live in hope but it is a slender one.
Comment by Roger Neilson on August 18, 2010 at 3:02am
Got to agree, having done almost 9 years delivering ICT across the 4 - 16+ age range there is a staggering difference in Primary and Secondary approaches. There are still Secondaries who start with Powerpoint and limit the kid's use of some of the tools ------ aaargh!
Can't see the current regime even being interested mind you.
Its a free market innit guv?


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