Archive for January, 2014

Schools need to be told it’s not acceptable.

January 2, 2014

If the school your children go to is failing to capitalise on the educational opportunities of technology and the Internet, they need to be told very clearly that it just isn’t acceptable any more.

They may be managing to get the pupils to a good level of capability as measured in national tests and exams without making much use of technology, but that isn’t enough. If children come out of their schooling without properly understanding how our connected world works and without high proficiency in using all that computers and the Internet offer them educationally and to collaborate with others, they are being disadvantaged. The education provided by schools that are creating 3rd millennium learning experiences for their pupils is hugely better than those that are not. See the videos on the Naace website if you don’t believe me.

And it’s not only a matter of failing to provide the best education they can. School spend public money and they are being wasteful and inefficient if they are not taking advantage of technology in the running of the school. Many schools are wasting tens of thousands of pounds annually on paper that could be replaced with digital information. And teachers are spending more time than they need to on processes that could be streamlined – time that could be spent on more interaction with pupils. And this can be achieved even before the teachers start to improve their pedagogy to get better leaning happening.

I was in a school a few weeks ago where the Assistant Head explained how he has changed his approach t0 marking. The pupils are now doing quite a lot of work online in Google Docs and they can share what they are doing with him. So he now arranges their tasks so that he can comment on first drafts and make suggestions as to what they need to do to improve their work. Then when the work is finally submitted all he does is assign a grade on the basis of how well they have responded to his suggestions. There is hugely more learning happening in this process than the old process of him setting a task and not being able to provide any comments until it is finally submitted, after which the pupils have no chance to act on his comments until the next piece of work, if they remember. This is just one example out of very very many of how teachers in 3rd millennium schools are improving the quality and end results of pupils’ learning.

You will find six questions for schools on my website. Any school that cannot answer a resounding YES to all six should be heavily criticised by parents. Some schools could answer YES to most of these questions back in 2007. That’s seven years ago; seven years for other schools to look at what these leading schools are doing, to see the advantages and to start to make similar changes themselves.

In every other area of life the way we do things now is considerably different to how we did things 7 years ago. We shop and book holidays online, submit our tax returns online, go online for all sorts of information and we collaborate for work and leisure reasons in online networks. Why on earth are we allowing some schools to put their heads in the sand and avoid confronting the change in how their customers – pupils and parents – are now living their lives. How can we allow schools to still prohibit pupils from using the powerful technology they have in their pockets to aid their learning, when lots of schools have shown how this can be achieved safely and sensibly.

I have decided that it is time to be a lot more direct about this. As the government and Ofsted are doing little to acknowledge this reality, and as only a very few local authorities are providing any strong leadership, it is being left to individual schools. If those whose job it is to hold schools to account will not act more forcefully on this issue, the only force left to create the change we need is parents. For the sake of the children this must happen. The gap between the best and the worst schools in this respect is too large and too many children are not being properly prepared for the world they will live in.

In future blogs I will explore in more detail why it is imperative that schools adopt 3rd millennium learning.