If you have any connection with ICT in England’s schools then today’s OFSTED report should interest you. The report “The importance of ICT” details the review of subject inspections for 177 schools. Primary and secondary schools are covered.
There are many key points, some of which are covered in a BBC report which is probably worth glancing at if you just need a synopsis. It’s hard to summarise however because there is always good news mixed with less good and most news agencies only want to ‘sensationalise’.
A few findings (relating to secondary schools) that ‘rang true’ with me were:
- The picture in the most resent inspections seemed to be getting better (could this be to do with the renewed national curriculum?).
- Teacher knowledge is mostly good (or better).
- Students were spending considerable time demonstrating proficiency in what they could already do in order to meet the assessment criteria, rather than being introduced to new and more challenging material and skills.
- Most students who chose not to pursue an ICT qualification at Key Stage 4 did not receive their statutory entitlement to the National Curriculum for ICT.
- Vocational GCSEs offering up to 4 GCSE equivalence offer limited challenge.
- Declining numbers taking ICT post 16, especially girls (now at an all time low).
- Over-reliance on a standard ‘office’ application and operating system restricted <pupils> opportunities to develop generic and transferable skills.
- The weakest single aspect was assessment (including tracking).
- Leadership has improved during the survey. School visions for ICT placed it firmly in a learning context now.
- Investment in ICT has improved but ICT is not yet a part of everyday learning
- Only half of schools systematically evaluated the impact of ICT on learning.
- Using ICT was contributing positively to the personal development and future economic well-being of pupils and students. It developed their skills of working independently and cooperatively and was in most cases motivating and engaging.
And the 2 key recommendations for secondary schools:
- provide the statutory National Curriculum for ICT for all students, especially at Key Stage 4, and give appropriate emphasis to all aspects
- find ways of making ICT readily accessible to students in their classrooms so that it can be used to improve learning in other subjects.