The future of ICT in the curriculum?

Where in the world is ICT now?

The latest announcement by the coalition government that the New Primary Curriculum has been dropped combined with the decision to get rid of BECTA  filled my heart with dread for two reasons.

  1. ICT in the ‘old’ National Curriculum as it stands in my opinion is completely unfit for purpose.   A curriculum written 10 years ago can in no way reflect the changes in technology and the skills that children need to be taught in the modern world.
  2. BECTA for all its failings actually gave the teaching profession a technical backup outside Local Authority level.  With the reduction of services that the LA now provides, where will the technical expert advice that schhols need come from.   Will it have to be bought in and if so how will we know that we are not being ripped off?

I’m worried that the coalition government is missing a trick here to move the agenda forward and help develop a flexible workforce for the future which, rightly or wrongly, seems to be driver behind educational policy.   There are many factors which they seem not to have considered thus far:

  • The essential ICT infrastructure to move the system forward is already in place and has been paid for.   Schools are in a position to develop a new curriculum that delivers ICT skills to the children.
  • The majority of the tools that the children may use are free and online.
  • The skills of collaboration, communication and creation are necessary in the modern workforce are not directly addressed in the old curriculum.
  • The current policy makers are not, it seems, digital natives for want of a better term.  I am in no way saying that I am any sort of ICT guru, but I do recognise that we need to address the different ways in which children access and  process information.   One of the great problems is that if you don’t understand how something works then how can you legislate for a future curriculum!

This is not the fault of government, but does present a problem and an opportunity.  The problem is that the the ICT curriculum needs to be developed from the ground up and not from the top down, the opportunity is that there is a new curriculum coming at some point down the line.

So here is the challenge:

Can we as educators develop a skill based ICT curriculum that  is relevant and low cost that will deliver for future learners?   I am sure that this is something that we can do working together that can demonstrate how and why these skills are important.

To this end I’ve set up a Google Docs Spreadsheet to try and bring together some of the ideas.  Please spread the word and lets get something together as a community.

Brave New World pt3

It’s rather odd to be sitting here on the train to London finally having a moment to take stock and reflect on what’s happened to me and my teaching in the past 18 months.

My journey has been a roller-coaster to say the least, new school 1-1 computing, new classroom and learning spaces collaborative approach, new build school complete blank canvas and 3 months to get it all organised.

This has been a fantastic ride so far, but like all the great rides it involves fear, risk and at some point saying ‘bugger it let’s do it!’. I have to be honest though that this next stage of the journey is the most daunting yet as it really means that my Headteacher and I really have to put our money where our mouths are in terms of our belief that this collaborative Ict experiential learning really does make a difference to children’s lives and futures.

There are clearly going to be huge challenges ahead, my to do list after a single day is already frighteningly long, and I’m not sure how we’re going to get everything done by September, bu one things for certain – the school will be opening in September and there will be nearly 500 children walking through the doors.

I’m just hoping that what they walk into is one of the most amazing and creative experiences that they will ever have.

To some degree my own journey and the huge amount of change that I’ve been through is in a small way reflective of the changes that they will face out there in the big wide world, so I’m confident that our vision is right.

This blog however also needs to go through a period of change too. Whilst I still intend to use it to promote excellent teaching with technology, I also intend to blog about the challenges that present themselves when setting up what must, and will be on of the first purpose built 21st Century schools in the country.

Bugger it here we go…

Coming along for the ride?

Coming along for the ride?

Long time coming!

New Beginnings

New Beginnings

I really can’t believe that I’ve neglected to blog for so long!   I even forgot my username and password for the blog which is unforgivable.   The reason is fairly simple – work has been completely insane!

Since moving into the new classroom in September I’ve completely had to rethink the way in which I’ve taught the curriculum.   Literally we started again from scratch and tried to follow a model of 21st Century learning.   This has been a huge upheaval and has forced me to reconsider exactly what has been going on in the classroom and my own beliefs and values.

To properly embrace the ideas of Collaboration, Communication and Creation has meant that in many ways I’ve had to let go of my long held practices and move from being a “giver of knowledge” to a facilitator. This is a scary process as you are always thinking -what happens if the children don’t learn anything?   I’ll be the one to blame!

Fortunately I’ve got a fantastic head teacher who gave me the professional trust to try and experiment and take calculated risks.

When the process first started it was chaos.   I’d expected the children to innately have cooperative skills and be able to put them to use in a group dynamic.   I could not have been more wrong!   The first month of the project was basically teaching the children how to listen to each other and teaching them the skills of teamworking ie. Scribe, timekeeper, chairperson etc

After several attempts they finally realised that if they didn’t contribute the group would not succeed.   Eventually they realised that this type of learning would not go away and it was far more fun to achieve something that was complete and worthwhile than to fail to finish another project.

Once we had crossed this hurdle the quality of the work that the children achieved really started to take off.   This was because the children had real ownership of the work.   At one point in February visitors to the school occupied me for an hour in the classroom while the children got on with some instructions about how to male a track using Dance- ejay.

I have to say I wasn’t expecting it to be up to much, however when I looked at it afterwards it was some of the best work they’d done all year.

So what have I learnt?

  • Children need to be completely immersed in a creative curriculum project to have the desired results.
  • It takes a huge amount of time for children to develop self motivation and collaborative skills, but its worth the effort.
  • Quality breeds quality.   Once children get the taste of success they want move.
  • Ask the children about their learning and what skills they think they are learning – its very insightful.
  • Children can teach each other just as well as you can!   Training small ‘expert groups is well worth a small time input.

All in all its been an amazing six months that I’ll always remember and treasure. I can’t recommend highly enough this creative approach – go for it.

“If I know but don’t do, then I don’t really know!”

21st Century Classroom – the beginning.

Today was a big day. After a very stressful couple of months breaking my neck to get the kids through SATs I finally got into my new classroom.

For those that don’t follow my Twitter feed (@mrkp) we have recieved a grant to create a ‘transformational learning space’ in our school. The theory is that in a couple of years we will be moving to a new all singing all dancing new build school, as such over the next two years my role is to try and develop a new pedagogy for such spaces. This really does present lots of exciting new opportunities. The basic layout is as follows :
– one large classroom linked through double doors to the year six classroom
– a large double stock cupboard that can be used as a mini breakout space
– a larger breakout space with interactive whiteboard and projector
– a large decked outdoor area with canopy and outdoor plasma screen
– a plasma display wall
– two 77″ smartboards aide by side to run multiple windows
– a tablet pc to wirelessly control everthing
– a switch system so that children’s umpcs can be projected onto the different whiteboards
– 1 to one access to umpcs for each child.

Needless to say I was very excited to take on such a project. The possibilities of changing the way in which I interact with the children and the way that they interact with their learning are endless. My head has been constantly buzzing with ideas.

Today however the reality of what I’ve taken on finally hit home. I walked into the classroom to find that it was completely bare. This shouldn’t have suprised me as it was a community space previously next to my old room. What was a little worrying though was that there was no sign of any of the kit! I’m sure that it will get sorted out soon enough but there’s only a week and a half before term starts!

Not only that but I hadn’t realised just how much stuff you need in a room, bookshelves, drawers etc etc

I think that I’ve made some progress today but it does look like a bombsite. I’ll blog more about the experience as things go along. Hopefully next time the post will be more to do with practical ideas once again but everything has to have a beginning!

Wallwisher – Online Learning Walls.

 Whilst looking round a school last year I came across the idea of a ‘learning wall’ where children could write questions and ideas about any topic that they are studying.   The only thing that I didn’t like about it was the fact that it looked rather messy in the classroom – that’s the controling teacher in me!

Whilst ‘listening to Twitter a few weeks ago Doug Belshaw mentioned WallWisher.   I had a look at it and realised that this was in effect an online learning wall!

In class this week I set up a wall all about our next topic – Dinosaurs.   The exercise worked really well and th children came up with loads of questions.


The next step is to get them to create webpages to answer their questions and then link them to the questions on the wall.   I’m looking forward to see if it all works out.


Etherpad – The best thing since sliced bread?

Today provided me with one of those – ‘blimey things are going to be different from now on’ moments.   After a staff meeting about guided writing with children last night, I put two and two together and realised that a tool called Etherpad could be a match made in heaven.

I came across Etherpad through a tweet from my Twitter network.   It is a collaborative online text authoring tool.   The nice thing about it is that it lets up to eight people author the same work in real time.  This is a significant advantage to Google Docs collaborative element as this does tend to be rather sticky.

Each person has a different colour highlight and it’s really easy to invite others through the url.  

 I tested it with the class today by showing the class this video of Batman the Animated Series (thanks to Dawn Robertson for the idea.)


Then I split them up into groups and assigned them each a few seconds of video to describe as a narrative, trying to focus on powerful words, pace etc.   I shared the url with each group and we all watched each other developing the narrative together.

What was really powerful was that we could see the writing in real time and children were editing ‘live’.   The different colours also gave me as a teacher a really clear visual representation of how I was modelling the writing and in fact which aspects of the writing needed to be focused on next time.

The Results:

Batman The Beginning
The lights shone through the shadowy clouds like a cat's eyes searching for its prey.   They stood there waiting, until it was clear to go.  The city skyline behind them looked like the shattered teeth of a giant miserable beast.  The city looked bleak dispressed.The howling wind blew through each cloud.
BANG!   With a tramendous force the door of the bank shattered into a thousand pieces.   The explosion was brightly coloured and sparks fell, floating down onto the dirty floor.   
Wind shivered down Batman’s spine, he knew something wasn’t right. He jumped into his Bat Mobile and raced off with wheels smoking. The caped crusader started to rev the engine of his metal beast, about to charge into action.
The villans started to run, their feet pounding on the moonlit streets.  Suddenly a glowing light appeared.   They sprinted even faster because they knew it was coming.
At last they saw him at the corner of their eye.   The end was closer.  Faster and faster they ran they ran just as much as their legs could hold it .   They  leapt onto the cobbled wall and started to climb like wild animals, their breath harsh and fast. Batman  flew high in the shimmering sky and  dropped onto the fragile roof of he building. He appeared as if from the moon-lit night like a deadly shadow.   He stopped, stared, relaxed and confident of his ability to save the city.   As they saw him the villain's eyes filled with fear, sweat poured down their for heads .
Robbers sat in the dark gazing up at Batman. Batman, looking down at the sly criminals, shone in the lightning bolts.  He stood tall and proud after his latest capture. The moon was a silver frame againest the black shiloutte. 

I have to say that it was one of the most exciting developments in my classroom over the last year – and there have been quite a few.  I can’t wait to set up another activity for tomorrow and see what come of it!


SATs are Rubbish!

The message here is short and simple SATs in KS2 are ruining what should be the best days of the children’s lives in Britain!

Year Six (10-11 year olds) should be fostering their love of learning and exploring all sorts of creative adventures that inspire them onto greater things.

Instead the pressure on schools to gain ridiculous levels of attainment (which are constantly changing) force schools to push children down a path of exam technique and points scoring.

I have no doubt that children’s self esteem grows when they suceed in attaining a good level, but this is gained at a loss of seeing learning as an achievement in itself.

It is only when the children enjoy the process of learning and discovery, that the seeds of lifelong leaning are sown.

It may be supposition, but I am forced to wonder if there is a correlation between the perception of the increase in dissafected youth and the implementation of league tables. Did schools in their quest for wishing to be seen as ‘sucessful’ actually forget what sucess truely is in terms of developing children?

At which point did children stop going to school to ask questions and go to school to be given answers to remember?

This said tomorrow in my class will be different. SATs are going out the window for the afternoon – we’re going to have tea and biscuits and enjoy each others company!

Rant over.


I just wanted to record my clustermap before it disappears! 

United States (US)



United Kingdom (GB) 665
Australia (AU) 140
Canada (CA) 129
Netherlands (NL) 111
India (IN) 50
France (FR) 46
Germany (DE) 46
Spain (ES) 33
Luxembourg (LU) 30
Brazil (BR) 26
Poland (PL) 24
Belgium (BE) 19
New Zealand (NZ) 18
Italy (IT) 18
Taiwan (TW) 15
Portugal (PT) 14
Sweden (SE) 14
Hungary (HU) 14
Ireland (IE) 13
Hong Kong (HK) 13
South Africa (ZA) 13
Denmark (DK) 12
United Arab Emirates (AE) 11
Mexico (MX) 11
Singapore (SG) 11
Japan (JP) 11
Norway (NO) 10
Switzerland (CH) 10
Korea, Republic of (KR) 9
Greece (GR) 9
Malaysia (MY) 9
Czech Republic (CZ) 9
Israel (IL) 9
Argentina (AR) 8
Chile (CL) 7
Romania (RO) 7
Thailand (TH) 7
Indonesia (ID) 7
Finland (FI) 7
Qatar (QA) 6
Russian Federation (RU) 5
Philippines (PH) 5
Venezuela (VE) 4
Austria (AT) 4
Serbia (RS) 3
Slovenia (SI) 3
Croatia (HR) 3
Turkey (TR) 3
Bangladesh (BD) 3
Egypt (EG) 3
Guam (GU) 2
Colombia (CO) 2
Guatemala (GT) 2
Oman (OM) 2
Slovakia (SK) 2
Bulgaria (BG) 2
Kuwait (KW) 2
Latvia (LV) 1
Ukraine (UA) 1
Bermuda (BM) 1
Trinidad and Tobago (TT) 1
Aruba (AW) 1
Honduras (HN) 1
Costa Rica (CR) 1
Ecuador (EC) 1
Bolivia (BO) 1
Tanzania, United Republic of (TZ) 1
Puerto Rico (PR) 1
Bahamas (BS) 1
Malta (MT) 1
China (CN) 1
Macedonia (MK) 1
Iran, Islamic Republic of (IR) 1
Morocco (MA) 1
Jordan (JO) 1
Pakistan (PK) 1
Europe (EU) 1