Wednesday, 25 January 2012

An example of the emails I'm getting

From: Sarah
Sent: 25 January 2012 19:57
To: Haigh, Mr P
Subject: Help
Dear Paul, can you give me some advice
Our head has taken Gove at his word and is axing ICT as quickly as he can. On the back of that I suspect that having a head of what will be a very very small department is not going to be seen as sustainable. With that in mind I want to get to him to give him alternatives for my role!
I hear you are masterminding the concept of "digital literacy". Could you let me into your plans for the future of ICT in schools and any ideas of what i could morph my role into. Our school is backward with technology with a head with who thinks only traditional subjects should be valued so i will probably need to move on but want to do it from a strong position!

Hi Sarah
If your head is taking all that Gove is saying at his word then the future is bright- new technology is central to delivery of all subjects and key to running a 21st century school. If he's picking and choosing and sees the opportunity to ditch a subject he doesn't get then not all is rosy. Make sure he's reading to understand the breadth of the DfE ideas.
Around taught ICT then yes I think now you should think about digital literacy for all- think KS3 and the skills students need to be 21st century students, independent learners, safe online, able to manage online identities and don't forget those office applications as professional and personal life skills, but don't be a slave to traditional locally installed applications, reflect the shifting landscape with web apps like Google apps and also get up to date with things that have happened since the old programme of study was written- web2.0, social media, mobile devices, smart phones, tablets, e-book readers internet access from range of devices- digital TV, games consoles, iPod, Kindles etc
This could be delivered as discreet lessons/ and or by embedding into other subjects (I'd argue both)- if he goes for the latter then the challenge is the CPD for the subject teachers and the mapping and tracking that it is done- a job to be done by someone and it needs to stay up to date in a fast moving field. If he sticks with discreet lessons then you are liberated from long projects flogging applications spreadsheets or databases that most computer uses only need an introduction to and you can bring in some fun like designing mobile device apps or design a web2.0 social media campaign-you can argue that by delivering digital literacy well the students will be better equipped to learn independently in the 'traditional subjects'. If the head is stuck on traditional subjects tell him how cuts at universities mean increasingly more of courses are delivered through independent and online learning, as is professional CPD in the workplace not to mention the jobs the kids will have require digital literacy- remind him of the world your school is preparing the kids for.
As for computing aim to give all students the chance to experience coding in KS3- look at extra curricula clubs to engage the geeks as well as giving everyone a taster in lessons and then use this as a way in to a KS4 computer science option and market it based on UK heritage in computing/ our future economy means we should be taking computing as seriously as maths and science as the foundations of a UK knowledge based economy. Work with the maths and science departments to give computing the gravitas- even get history on board- see reference to WW2 below.
Then have a good GCSE in computing option in KS4 and use the student/ parent voice to tell you if traditional ICT isn't required, perhaps business options can cover that market?
Get your Head to wake up and smell the coffee by showing him the passage in Gove's speech that if the exam boards come up with the right specs he'd like computing to be part of the Ebacc- computing is a new traditional subject (and not that new, since modern computing started in the 1940s with the war time code breakers and Alan Turing et al)
Finally your ace card is Silicon Fen- Cambridgeshire is a world hot spot for new tech companies so you should be preparing school leavers for jobs in them, use your freedom to strike up partnership with local IT companies to design an engaging curriculum that trades on your regional pride and their needs for future employees, get some business partnerships and sponsorships to give the kids some real career aspirations.
Finally tell your head to buy and you get networking with the people shaping the future via twitter and their blogs e.g. this has just flashed by on the #tag #futureteched (also follow #codingforkids and #ukedchat) so you know what people are up to and can copy them.
And yes, if you can't change your head's mind and he's not 58 years old take your talent elsewhere- all other right minded schools are looking to a renaissance in the role of new technology and the place of computing, those who are seeing it as a chance to ditch ICT are missing the point and will end up running schools that aren't fit for 21st century purpose.