Questions for schools

Any school that is providing an education fit for our connected world should be able to answer Yes to all these questions:

1) Do all staff have a laptop? If they don’t it indicates that the school is still circulating information on paper, not online, and is not using digital systems to make the operation of the school more effective. The school could save probably £20,000 a year just on paper, not to mention the huge time savings for all staff made possible by good online systems.

2) Do all the teachers make use of the online platform regularly? At the very least you and your children should be able to check what homework is set by logging into the school’s online platform. The teachers should also be putting up links and resources to help pupils with homework. If the school does not have effective, easy to use, online systems used by all staff and pupils they just haven’t started on the radical improvements in education that can be achieved.

3) Can your children use their mobile phones or their own laptop or tablet in lessons? The school will have an acceptable use policy which will probably state that the teachers will tell the pupils whether they can or cannot use these in a particular lesson, but with the expectation that whenever sensible use of phones and other devices will be permitted. Schools that have adopted 3rd millennium learning actively encourage pupils to use their own devices, because they are so powerful in aiding learning. They have also ensured the whole school is covered by a fast wireless network. Primary schools will provide lots of mobile devices in school for the younger pupils and many now arrange for the older pupils to have their own netbook or tablet that they take home. Any secondary school that has not yet started to ensure all the pupils have their own computer device is failing its pupils.

4) Does the school network prohibit access to YouTube? Many school networks are ‘locked down’ stopping teachers and pupils accessing many very powerful educational resources, because the technicians are controlling what happens online instead of the school leadership team. This is despite Ofsted’s Lead Inspector for ICT having publicly stated that school networks should not be locked down. Access will be filtered and managed but should not prohibit access to good educational resources and systems.

5) Is there a group of teachers leading development of the use of digital resources and systems? Education is going through a radical change because of the immense educational opportunities of digital resources and the Internet. If there isn’t a group of teachers actively leading how the school responds to these opportunities it indicates the school is not helping the teachers develop their professional skills.

6) Are there groups of pupils who take responsibility for helping teachers and other pupils use digital resources and systems? Many schools involve pupils in managing esafety, helping teachers with technical issues, training pupils to use the schools systems when they first arrive, and updating the school’s website and online platform. This has huge benefits for both the pupils involved and everyone else in the school.