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ICT in line with Ofsted thinking isn’t so bad :)

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Recently reading the Ofsted report  into their findings during ICT inspections since 2005 I was pleasantly surprised to find I wasn’t shaking in my boots, instead I was highlighting huge sections and saying to myself “Oh yes, we do this, and I really wanted a good excuse to try that…”

So I’m putting together my top 10 list of ICT suggestions that should please Ofsted when they visit a school/department.

The List:

Macs!!

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Oh I have wanted to see more Apple Mac computers in schools for so long, and now the recent Ofsted report supports my desire. Ofsted noted that as so many schools are Windows based in their systems and software we are stifling the development of transferable skills in young people. In fact Ofsted explicitly highlight their favour of students working with varied OS and software beyond ‘Office’, saying that students who have these opportunities are…”better equipped to cope with rapidly changing technologies.” (Ofsted:Thin Importance of ICT, 2009, Ref; 070035)

Cross-department creativity

Get creative outside the department, ICT across the curriculum has long been important to Ofsted, and that makes sense. If you want to move your students attainment forward then you need them to develop skills which are transferable across the wide subject ranges.
Ofsted highlight some strong demonstrations of this that they have witnessed as;  “increased use of software for editing digital photographs and video, composing music and building animations.”
They also highlight the creative use of ICT with ‘disaffected students’ “…improving their attitudes to learning, for example through giving them opportunities to record podcasts…”
Look up ‘Audacity’ and ‘Garageband’ if you want to dip your toes into podcasting the easy way.

Get the girls involved in ICT!

girlyICT has been loosing ground engaging with girls for some years now, and no-one has the exact answer. After school clubs, innovative technology, specific projects and increased ‘applied’ work all go some way to improving involvement in ICT with girls. Ofsted recognise the importance of each of those. So make sure you’re engaging your girls in ICT!
On and specifically check out Computer club for Girls – which gets the thumbs up from Ofsted. www.cc4g.net

Don’t be too focused on ‘teaching to the exam’

Ofsted have sited this as a poor teaching method, they want to see students ‘learning’ ICT rather than just memorising the data needed to pass the exam.

Independent learning opportunities

Emphasise how you are giving your students the opportunity to manage their

vle-school

own ‘independent learning’ through your VLE – and in particular set HOMEWORK via your VLE that you expect students to work on in their own time.

Ofsted highlight “…too much talking by the teacher…” and “…little opportunity for independent learning and creative thinking” as hampering students development in ICT.

Online Identity

Get an online identity thats current and interactive!
“The use of websites and intranets as a source of information for parents, students…” was highlighted as an area that many schools had neglected to develop adequately. They highlight that an opportunity to plan and share resources via these is being lost. However if you have a VLE in place make sure Ofsted know that’s exactly what you use the VLE for!!

Plan, plan and plan some more!

Have a whole school strategic plan for, procurement, use and development of ICT resources and staff. And keep the focus on how these improve teaching and learning. Obviously liked in to your school improvement plan. Ofsted comment many times that they want to see continuous ‘evaluation’ of the impact of ICT decision, from software to hardware, and from staff and students. Key to this can be the use of Becta’s ‘self review framework’ that Ofsted keenly endorse. Apply the 4 principles of best value “challenge, compare, consult and competition…” when reviewing your schools purchases and uses of ICT.

Speak to each-other!

Make sure that your data on your students attainment in ICT is transfered with them as they move up the year groups. It makes perfect sense, monitor students through their progression in ICT and then make sure you share that with other departments and most importantly their ICT teachers in following years. Student information management systems (such as SIMS) will help you track, monitor and share data on pupil progress. Ideal for setting targets and conducting any mentoring with your students. “Getting assessment right is vital if standards in ICT are to improve.”

Open Source solutions!

openOpen source software and operating systems have increased in their popularity over the recent years. Although some schools still worry about their potential effects on their networks, such fears are easily resolved with a little research and an open mind. Ofsted have highlighted in their report the potential benefit from students and staff in being exposed to such alternative working solutions. Becta also support this through their Open Source programme which encourages schools to investigate the potential of using Open Source software and OS in schools. So check them out, or at least make your students aware of them!! And point that out to the inspectors!

Face the fear!

Ok so the last bit of advice is a light hearted bit, but its still hugely important. Ofsted are in schools to assess standards and advice you on how to raise your game, to make you a better teacher and help your students go far. So don’t fear them, engage them in conversation inside and outside the classroom, share your subject knowledge with them freely and openly.

To view the report for your self (in PDF) down load it from: www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications

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