Time to grow up?

Here’s a thought. I like to think of myself as a glass half full type of person. So why all the doom and gloom about the apparent lack of Governmental support, in the UK, for technology in the classroom?

This is evidenced by the withdrawing of the Harnessing Technology budget, ending of the Building Schools for the Future programme, the axing of funding for Becta, and the almost complete absence of the terms “ICT” and “technology” from the recent White Paper, The Importance of Teaching.

Notwithstanding the personal consequences to many people of these decisions, is this not a compliment in a way? Isn’t the Government saying, in effect, “Look, you’ve had over 13 years of sustained funding for educational technology; now it’s time to stand on your own two feet.”?

I went to an ICT Mark Assessor conference recently, and Niel McLean, who holds a senior position in Becta, likened this process of enforced independence to the way the Romans used to build their bridges. Apparently, they would construct a wooden framework to begin with. Then, once the concrete had been put in place, the original wooden frame – for which there was now no need – was burnt away.

I would not go so far as to say that everything in the garden is rosy, and there is little doubt that the importance of ICT in the National Curriculum will become less obvious (but if it has become embedded in schools and in teachers' consciousness, does this even matter?). However, given the freedom from ring-fenced funding, the apparent embracing of a philosophy that the Government should take a back seat in day-to-day decision-making, the advent of free schools and new types of academies and – let us not forget – a wealth of infrastructure and expertise built up over the last two decades (at least), I don’t think the future is as bleak as we might believe.