Blasts from our ICT Past

I’ve been trawling through the archives again (I don’t get out much). The following appeared in the very first edition of my newsletter, which was originally called Computers in Classrooms (but is now called Digital Education), on 3rd April 2000:

NOT the Computers in Classrooms archives! Photo by LW Yang

It's interesting to note, by the way, that what used be thought of as unthinkable, because impossible, in the primary school is slowly but surely gaining ground. I am referring, of course, to computer rooms, taught ICT lessons, non-contact time and technician support. The growth in the number of primary schools with computer rooms was cited in the recent national Ofsted report as instrumental in developing good quality work and improved teaching. The report's full title is The Annual Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools Standards and Quality in Education 1998-99, and you can read it on the internet at (or read the summary of the IT-related comments in the next edition of Computers in Classrooms). Once a school has a computer room, it is probably only a matter of time before it becomes blindingly obvious that one person with no non-contact time cannot manage the set-up effectively. I'd be interested in your comments on this.

Strange to think that, 15 years later, the major indication of progress is the abandoning of computer rooms in favour of tablets and other devices being used in the classroom (or wherever pupils happen to be).

The following quotes appeared in the 4th issue of Computers in Classrooms, in August 2000:

"The greatest applications are not those with the greatest power but
those which teachers can use most imaginatively. The most powerful
combination is killer applications and killer ideas!" (Gabriel Goldstein,

"If we miss something that is bad, that's our fault, but if we miss
something that's good, that's your fault." (OFSTED inspector)

I think that both apply today. Having been an Ofsted inspector, I can definitely vouch for the veracity of the second quote. On at least two occasions I almost gave an ICT department a lower grade than was warranted because, despite all my probing and detective work, I was not aware of some crucial facts.

I do think that when it comes to being inspected, you cannot assume that all your good works will be blindingly obvious. If you have just launched a new initiative to identify pupils who are technophobic, then say so. If you are considering introducing a new 1:1 tablet scheme, then say so. Ofsted inspectors are, usually, pretty good at finding stuff out. But they're not psychic.

This article was originally published in the April 2015 issue of Digital Education.

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