Monday, 19 December 2011

Ofsted Report: ICT in schools 2008-2011

Ofsted published a report on the use of ICT in schools 2008-2011

Key findings

The overall effectiveness of ICT was good or outstanding in over two thirds of the primary schools visited. In contrast, just over a third of the secondary schools visited were considered good or outstanding for the overall effectiveness of ICT. Many of the weaknesses seen in the secondary school sample, including weak use of assessment and the degree of challenge posed by the Key Stage 4 vocational curriculum, echo findings similar to those of Ofsted’s previous ICT report.

 Pupils’ achievement in ICT was good or outstanding in over half of the primary schools visited over the three years of the survey. Achievement was good or outstanding in 29 of the 74 secondary schools visited, and was inadequate in almost a fifth. Achievement in the secondary schools was adversely affected by the lack of effective challenge for higher-attaining students and poor coverage of key aspects of the ICT curriculum, especially at Key Stage 4.

 Teaching of ICT was good or outstanding in nearly two thirds of the primary schools visited. Teachers and teaching assistants were increasingly confident in their own use of ICT and able to support pupils more effectively. Weaknesses remained, however, in the teaching of more demanding aspects of ICT such as control and data handling. In just under half of the secondary schools visited, teaching and learning were good or outstanding.

 The use of assessment was a considerable weakness in both the primary and secondary schools visited. Pupils’ use of ICT in other subjects was only occasionally tracked or recorded. For those students in Key Stage 4 who were not receiving specialist ICT teaching there was no systematic record of their learning in ICT and no means for teachers or pupils to know whether they had gaps in their knowledge.

The ICT curriculum and qualification routes provided by nearly half of the secondary schools surveyed were not meeting the needs of all students, especially at Key Stage 4. In these schools a single vocational examination course was taken by all students, limiting challenge to the more able, or ICT was offered as an option to some students with others not receiving the full National Curriculum. As a result, in 30 of the 74 schools visited nearly half of the students reach the age of 16 without a sound foundation for further study or training in ICT and related subjects.

 Very few examples were seen of secondary schools engaging with local IT businesses to bring the subject alive for their students. This was a particular issue for girls, many of whom need a fuller understanding of ICT-related career and education options to inform their subject choices at 14 and 16 years of age.

 Leadership and management of ICT were good or outstanding in over two thirds of the primary schools. In these schools leaders had a clear and comprehensive understanding of the contribution of ICT to the school’s wider development and improvement. In outstanding secondary schools ICT was seen by the headteacher as an engine for innovation and raising standards. In contrast, half of the secondary schools surveyed in which leadership and management of ICT were no better than satisfactory had common weaknesses that included insufficient attention given to progress in ICT across the curriculum and lack of support for staff in teaching more challenging topics.

 In the majority of primary schools there were regular audits of staff’s professional development needs. The approach was less systematic in secondary schools, where inspectors saw very few examples of any evaluation of the impact of training on the effectiveness of teaching or on pupils’ learning.

Commissioning and procuring the right equipment, infrastructure and software were becoming more challenging for the schools visited as their vision for ICT developed. Schools surveyed were engaging pupils, staff, governors and parents in helping to specify needs, but only a few had evaluated the effectiveness of previous investment or developed costed plans for rolling future investment.

Most of the schools either had a virtual learning environment in full use or were in the process of installing one. Where schools were making regular use of a virtual learning environment, they had been able to enhance and enrich many aspects of school life, including the quality of learning resources, communications with parents, and assessment and tracking processes.

All the schools visited ensured that pupils were well informed about the safe use of the internet and were able to use it in a responsible and safe way in school. However, the need for continued vigilance was emphasised by the fact that in discussions with inspectors, pupils frequently raised the issue of the under-age use of social networking sites. Staff training and support for parents need to remain a high priority for schools.

Full Report can be found here

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