The ICT policy of the school plays a strong part in how the school develops student ICT capability. It has to provide students and new staff members with assistance for their teaching and learning with ICT. To achieve this it has to highlight the particular way the school feels that it should deliver the aspects of the Australian Curriculum that incorporate ICT.
If your ICT policy is to be successful, it needs to serve these three purposes (Kennewell, Parkinson, & Tanner, 2000, p. 62):
- Set out the aims and values for ICT which had been agreed by the staff and supported by the head teacher;
- Make explicit the principles behind the effective learning and application of ICT;
- Identifying other principles that the school needed to address, and which formed the basis of a development plan with specific targets.
A policy should be set out in four key stages:
- The statement of intent or aims of policy;
- The rationale;
- Curriculum audit and;
- Target setting.
Stating the school’s intention
The aim of a school’s ICT policy should be long-term focused and be realistic and achievable within the time span. In this section, highlight what the school wishes to work towards. As the mission statement of the school, it also needs to inform planning in the short-term. Therefore, it is essential that if it is to accomplish this that it incorporates the views of the whole school. The statement of aims determines how ICT will be developed throughout the school so it is significant to write it correctly and ensure that funding is given to the right departments, teachers and resources. The perspectives of the whole school needs to be included.
Effective development of ICT policies are essential for the successful implementation of ICT.
Policy Introduction or Rationale
The beginning of the school ICT policy sets the tone for the rest of the document. It needs to include information pertaining to the nature of ICT that your school is currently experiencing. For example, your school might have the funds to try and buy some high-tech developments in education. On the other end, your school might be moving slow but progressively on the more every day, generic ICT tools and resources. Whatever the circumstances might be the introduction to the policy needs to make this clear. In addition, do you have any aspirations? If so, what are they? At the times when your own aspirations are not quite extensive then this should also be included in the document.
Who is the audience for the policy? Teachers? Senior staff? Whole school? Pre-service teachers? Ensure that this is articulated well within the policy.
It is important the introduction outlines what the school ICT policy wants to achieve. According to Hall (2010, 162) it may be to:
- To ensure all staff understand and agree on the approach to using ICT;
- To assist planning and;
- To explain the school’s position to outsiders.
Here are a few examples that he provides –
“This policy document sets out the school’s aims, principles and strategies for the delivery of Information and Communication Technology. It will form the basis for the development of ICT in the school over the next five years…..”
In addition, it should define the meaning of ICT. For example:
“We interpret the term ‘Information and Communication Technology’ to include……”
And make clear the significance of ICT. For example:
“Information and Communication Technology (ICT) prepares students to participate in a rapidly changing world in which work and other activities are increasingly transformed by access to varied and developing technology. Students use ICT tools to find, explore, analyse, exchange and present information responsibly, creatively…..”
Assessing the Current Policy
After you have set the long-term aims of the school for ICT, the next step is to audit the school’s current policy. Ensure that you know the school’s position and what factors will influence it from the outside. Gather the opinions of the staff on the current policy about how well it reflects the quality and extent of children’s learning with ICT across the curriculum.
It is a good idea to present the audit in two different ways: a detailed audit and a summary audit. Your detailed audit should be thorough and comprehensive to enable administrative control to be exercised. The summary audit is not as meaningful as the detailed one to teachers. According to Crawford (2013, p. 275) “the summary audit should express the contents of the detailed audit in a form useful to teachers, curriculum planners, governors and others to whom a detailed audit would be confusing and, possibly, meaningless.”
Your school will need to the answers to questions about:
- Management structure e.g. What is the current management structure for organizing the staff involved in delivering the ICT curriculum?
- Curriculum organisation e.g. Do different groups of students have a different curriculum for ICT?
- Assessment, recording and reporting e.g. How is ICT assessed? What assessment evidence and what records are collected? How is students' progress and attainment reported?
- Hardware and software e.g. Is there a hardware and software inventory?
- Disaster recovery e.g. What backups of software is made?
- Security e.g. What physical security precautions are taken to guard against unauthorized access and theft?
- Data protection e.g. What systems containing personal data are registered with the Data Protection Registrar?
- Safeguarding and equal opportunities e.g. What rules and constraints are used to ensure equal and safe access to ICT resources?
- Staffing and CPD e.g. Who teaches ICT, helps students make use of ICT and assesses ICT?
- Funding e.g. What are the current costs and sources of funding for each element of the ICT Policy?
For a list of further questions, please click here.
School Development Plan
Now that you have assessed the current policy it is time to develop a plan of action. A development plan is imperative as it represents specific activities which the school intends to carry out in order to implement its policy and achieve its targets (Kennewell, Parkinson, & Tanner, 2000). ICT is continually being developed and is emerging throughout society and so the use of ICT in schools will need to continually adjust and reshape its image in terms of teaching and learning with ICT. Don’t think of it as a blueprint to be followed by the letter. There will no doubt be many changes along the journey. Instead look at it as an agenda “which takes account of constraints on development and is realistic about time required for stages to be implemented” (Harrison, 1998). Your development plan will require constant appraisal.
A good ICT development plan should contain:
- A statement of intent for teachers, administrators and parents;
- A commitment to equal opportunities regarding both culture and gender;
- Strategies for monitoring and assessment;
- Specifications for selecting, funding and purchasing hardware;
- A consideration of resource availability, access, safety and maintenance;
- Plans for ongoing replacement and development of equipment;
- A curriculum map of proposed ICT usage including clear progression and continuity issues;
- Consideration of training needs for teachers, support staff and technicians and;
- Procedures for the monitoring and review of the policy.
(Heinrich, 1995 as cited in Kennewell et al., 2000, p.62)
Harrison (1998) adds that a development plan should be able to achieve the following and suggests:
- To get every teacher to include the appropriate use of computers to support class topics;
- To encourage a wider range of presentation of reports through word processing in every class;
- To develop links with other classes of children in the USA and students in the UK and India;
- Integrating aspects of IT into the school’s history policy;
- Development of simple control technology in Year 5 and Year 6 to capitalise on cross-curricular links through project work;
- In order to write this plan try to write a statement in one simple sentence that will act as an aim.
Some steps to follow include:
- Write down all the relevant words and phrases and then to pare them down to one statement;
- Write down lots of ways that your aims might be realised. Divide up your list and say whether these can realistically be achieved, tackled or addressed in the long, medium or short term;
- Create a clear statement of intent and a possible order to tackle them.
The outcomes of a school development plan for ICT according to Harrison (1998) would consist of:
- parents will recognise the benefits of using IT as part of children’s education;
- parents see the IT experiences their child gains at home being encouraged and developed in school; teachers use IT effectively;
- teachers are receiving appropriate training and updating of their skills;
- teachers use IT in their lesson planning and preparation;
- teachers network with colleagues in other institutions to keep up to date and obtain resources;
- teachers consider the role of IT as a resource for differentiation;
- managers are prepared for continuing change;
- managers make effective use of IT in administration;
- managers monitor the use of new technology.
A good school development plan in ICT would develop higher levels of ICT capability where students would be able to:
- Use ICT to support their learning in all subjects;
- Use common ICT tools;
- Take responsibility for their own learning, developing strategies to help them learn how to use unfamiliar ICT tools, and work collaboratively;
- Use current hardware and software and understand its potential and limitation;
- Understand that using ICT affects social processes.
(Crawford, 2011, p. 6)