At the start of the week I blogged about my frustration with the apparent acceptance across Primary teaching of what is, at best, an incredibly mixed picture in the teaching and application of ICT across the curriculum.
I have talked a great deal about the dangers of the rollercoaster of expectation and experience in my tweets and during presentations and keynotes. It is arguable that in a school where there are completely different standards in the use of ICT that it would be more cost effective to spend the absolute minimum on kit rather than getting the children’s hopes if not all staff are teaching the full curriculum.
Obviously this is somewhat tongue in cheek but we do accept this variation in experience for children quite willingly in our profession.
This and the next few blogs will look at different approaches I have seen and been involved in.Â I am emphatically only suggesting them as some of the approaches available to schools rather than a definitive approach.
I would also point out that none of the approaches were developed by one person but by a team in a large Primary in the East Midlands. The school is well equipped and was a SLICT Host school with several key drivers for the use of ICT across the school. It is important to note that the school had two trolleys of laptops and so much of the ICT use was in the classroom.
One of the approaches we used was ICT mentors. This was something we came up with to formalise what we were already doing and to develop a whole school extension of the coaching and mentoring work taking place between staff.
We intially selected children from Years 5 and 6 to act as mentors to both staff and other pupils. The children who were chosen to be mentors could only offer help for one application as we were keen to avoid creating a ‘geek squad’ who helped with all of the ICT.
Over the first year we extended from an initial start with children working with staff who were not confident ICT users to identifying children in classes who could drive the technology. This meant that if we introduced something like the use of the screen recorder in the IWB software (to develop the promotion of pupil voice or the plenary) then we would teach children how to do this in the classes where the teacher was not a confident user of technology. This was really well received by colleagues who understood the pedagogy but were not natural ICT users.
There was a shift in the use of mentors over the year from the initial emergency call out to a much more strategic use of them where they were pre-booked to support specific activities. An example of this was Key Stage One teachers booking Year 5 children to support the use of Photostory to ensure that the children were able to move towards independence as quickly as possible. The staff felt more secure in the introduction of the application and the children loved having older children working alongside them. We did stress to the children that they were advising the infants on the technical side and not the literacy work.
This is something that I suspect that many readers will already be doing but I think that the success of the approach was down to the fact that it was formalised with all staff involved in selection of mentors and asking for help. I also think that, for those who were maybe uncertain about some of the technology we were using, this gave them a boost as the management team were recognising that the introduction of new applications can be hard and that we were trying to support them.