The Educator's PLN

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About a year ago I undertook a visit to Robin Hood Primary School in Birmingham. They had just joined our network and we were keen to learn about each other. What I saw was beyond inspirational! The most striking aspect was the can do attitude which was imprinted into the DNA of every child and staff member. This attitude allowed everyone to succeed and led to a confidence which enabled everyone to challenge the status quo with confidence. Much of this work was led by Neil Hopkins the Headteacher at the time. Neil led with a business head which questioned why things in school were being done the way they were and if they weren't right, to innovate rather than wait for another "solution" or strategy from DCSF. This led to them building their own curriculum beyond the National Curriculum. Obviously there are then concerns about how this would be viewed by OFSTED, however they felt the school was outstanding at meeting the needs of their children and this is the key.

In terms of ICT the children had made such progress that they were working beyond the National Curriculum and the school felt that they needed to broaded their ICT skills beyond what is effectively a 14 years old curriculum. We all know how technology has changed within this period and the ICT curriculum just hsn't kept up with the pace of change. Therefore if we teach the ICT curriculum of 14 years ago we prepare the children for a world of technology for 14 years ago. Can we honestly hand on heart agree that this is the right thing to do?

Where we are now is beyond the learning about what technology can do because children by and large already know this. This is the technology they use in the home. What they don't know is how technology can solve problems. Essentially this is the using and applying of technology. This using and applying needs to put in the children's hands. Teachers need to skilfully weave problems into their curriculum to allow children to select solutions to problems. It's for us to build situations which scaffold this process.

In the world of work, the future will demand people who can assess a situation and find a solution to it and we need our children to have these skills. Are we teaching these skills or how to use 14 year old technologies?

The problem with this approach is that you can't schedule creativity. You can't write a scheme for it which you can assess against.

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that we need to create our own scheme for assessing ICT based on the ability to be creative, innovative and problem solving and assess with practical examples. This negates the need for levels as progress in these terms is not linear or a process of development to go through, just either the right solution or one that is less appropriate or effective.

The beauty of this is that the teacher can teach why the solution may be less effective in that context but that the student can challenge this and it becomes a developmental debate which recognises that there is more than one answer. Effectively this becomes formative assessment rather than the summative one upon which much of our levels are based.

I would be really grateful if others who are doing this work could start a debate here which we can all benefit from. If we can show the DfE that this works there is at least an option to the current outdated ICT curriculum and it is more likely to be considered.

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