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The ONLY weekly voice for secondary education Issue 209 • April 2 2009 Price £1.00


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whether learning platforms will reporting can be hit
address. It is completely free
by Chris Parr
interact effectively with schools’ using the equipment
and we will not pass on your
existing systems and software that most schools
details to third parties. Just
programs. already have available.
Schools considering investing The School Interoperability He said: “Many schools
in new technology in order to Framework Association (SIFA), have made huge strides for-
hit the government deadline for of which Becta is a member, has ward by using their management
online reporting should be wary of been set up to help overcome these information system (MIS), and
misleading sales patter from potential problems. although long-term it would be
suppliers, a former government However, Mr Cowley says that good to see learning platforms and
employee has told SecEd. a solution is unlikely to be in place MISs working together, schools
It comes after a number of con- by September 2010. should make use of what they
cerned teachers have written to us He told us: “I think that the have available to them now.”
in recent weeks, claiming that the SIFA has caused some confusion One thing that all sides agree on
Special report:
proposed deadline of September and misunderstanding in schools, are the potential benefits of online
2010 is simply too soon. because it is giving the impression reporting – when implemented
the asbestos threat
Alan Cowley, a former teacher that all interoperability problems effectively and in a way that does
of 34 years, spent a year working are under control and they won’t not create additional workload for
An asbestos conference in
at Becta, the government’s edu- be an issue, which isn’t necessar- teachers.
Cardiff this week discussed
cational technology agency, help- ily true.” Mr Cowley said: “There is a fun-
the hidden “horror story”
ing to set up its online reporting Concerned heads have been damental problem in the way many
strategy. contacting SecEd about the dead- schools view parental engagement.
that is unfolding in UK
He told us: “I know a number lines. Some see it as a chore, or some-
schools, threatening the lives
of heads are scared to death about One London teacher, who thing that they want to get out of
of teachers and pupils spending a large sum of money on asked not to be named, told us: the way.
Page 6
products that won’t work properly “The current systems that most “Online reporting, if done well,
with their existing systems. schools have bought into for offers teachers the chance to report
“This problem can be exacer- managing information like marks to parents directly by simply carry-
bated by sales people from learn- and reports are absolutely unfit ing on what they are doing. When
ing platform providers trying to for purpose, constantly in need they update student reports and
push their own products forward, of upgrades, and with a very pupil targets, parents should be
perhaps to the extent that they are poor user interface and terrible among the first to know.”
being disingenuous with the facts compatibility with other prod- Jeremy Newnham, headteach-
regarding interoperability.” ucts. This means that schools are er at Caistor Yarborough School
Many of the problems seem to bound to be completely unpre- in Lincolnshire, is one of many
stem from the multitude of ongoing pared for this.” headteachers at schools already
developments in school ICT. A London headteacher, also communicating with parents
The government deadline for requesting anonymity, added: “All through online reports.
schools to provide all pupils with my experience as a headteacher He said: “In a world full of
Dyslexia advice
access to a personal online work- tells me that the timeline from this mobile phones with web brows-
space that can support an e-portfo- point to the one where every school ers and a myriad of wi-fi-enabled
Award-winning teaching lio passed last year, and in addition has it installed and has trained all devices, it seems perfectly reason-
assistant Devra Applebaum to online reporting, every school is the necessary staff to implement able to offer online access to par-
writes for SecEd offering
expected to have a complete learn- this kind of use is a much longer ents. Access to online reports as
advice on best practice when
ing platform, consisting of an inte- one than predicted. It might be dif- well as live behaviour and progress
it comes to educating dyslexic
grated learning and management ferent if online reporting was our data is the way forward in engaging Playing with fire: A photo competition is calling for
system, by September 2010. top priority, but it isn’t.” parents.” students to take snaps of the influential older people in
children in your school
However, while schools work Mike Briscoe, a director at For further information and their lives. The challenge marks Older People’s Day and
Pages 8 and 9
to hit the various targets, ministers Becta, says there is guidance for advice on online reporting, visit this image was among last year’s winners. See page 2.
are seemingly no closer to solving heads, and that the government
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naht.indd 1 24/3/09 15:04:15
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