Four Countries ICT Meeting, Birmingham 25 & 26 February

Well it’s Tuesday and I’m on my way home from sunny Birmingham and a four nations (Scotland, England, Northern Ireland & Wales) ICT meeting hosted by Becta.

• Scotland is represented by LTS (I’m here with our chief exec Bernard McLeary ).
• England is represented by a group directors of Becta including CEO Stephen Crowne
• Northern Ireland by Jimmy Stewart CEO of C2K
• Wales by Welsh Assembly Government official Kerry Darke

So what is happening across the UK and what are the issues?

England
• Lots going on here in this highly complex system …
• Becta has two Westminster Government departments to deal with.
o DCSF schools still very important but shift of focus towards children (especially those most at risk) and families. The Children’s Plan aims to make England ‘the best country in the world for children and young people to grow up in’. Quite ambitious!
o DIUS a new dept with the ‘I’ standing for ‘innovation’ looks really interesting.
• Lots of reviews taking place including a KS3 curriculum review and refresh of ‘Harnessing Technology’ (2005) to develop thinking around a more e-confident system & better meeting the needs of learners (personalisation)
• Increasing interest in consumer spend on technology and the potential benefits for education and universal access to ICT.
• The English education system spends c£1b per year on technology how might collaborative purchasing provide better value for public money?
• Computers for Pupils Programme will soon have achieved the target of getting 50,000 computers (and connectivity) into the homes of disadvantaged young people.

Northern Ireland
• Major review of public administration. Move to single education and skills authority by 2009 – embracing curriculum, leadership, qualifications.
• Review of policy & strategy – emerging policy ‘every school a good school’.
• Curriculum more skills focus, common 4-14 with choice agenda opening up from 14-19.
• C2K provides a managed service to all schools across NI including software, hardware and services.
• Every teacher has been given a laptop (20,000)

Wales
• Wales brought all of the public bodies/agencies into the Welsh Assembly Government a few years ago – a real bonfire of the quangos
• Latest project is a pilot of laptops for a group of 11 years olds. Connectivity at home continues to be an issue that needs some fresh thinking.
• Strategic development likely to focus on continuing inequalities and what does a digitally enabled classroom look like and how do we get there.
• Like the rest of the UK the e-Gov agenda is important with citizen/learner focus through technology prominent.
• Welsh Assembly Government is about to publish a school improvement framework and this will set the context for developments in technology.

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