One of the many responsibilities which senior management and ICT coordinators have in schools is to drive change. Schools today have well and truly entered the 21st century and what is the information age. This is a time where information is driven by ICT/technology integration. It won’t go away anytime soon. As an educational leader, if you are to make change happen then one of the things that will need to constantly be amended and reviewed is the school ICT policy. It is one of the factors which form the ICT culture of the school and influence the development of ICT capability and ICT literacy at the school.
ICT policies in schools consists of various sections that stand as a roadmap for staff to follow. ICT policies in schools should also form a vision of the whole school and therefore, should be partly constructed by various members of staff who are part of the ICT committee.
What is a school ICT policy?
When determining 'what is ICT policy', the meaning comes to that a school ICT policy is a document that sets out how you use ICT in teaching and learning and indeed, throughout the wider context of the school itself. It should form the back-bone to the school’s developing ICT culture which is the combination of the realisation of relationships, beliefs, attitudes, and ideologies of all staff that works within the school.
The ICT policy in schools are important as they are a roadmap for staff to follow in terms of the school's vision in ICT.
It is the school’s approach to achieving the vision for ICT capability and ICT literacy over a period of time.
The school ICT policy consists of the following sections: (ICT policy template)
- Introduction - should outline what you want the policy to achieve.
- Vision statement - an agreed vision for the future of ICT.
- Mission statement - outlines how the school intends to achieve its vision.
- Shorter statement outlining what is meant by the term ICT in the context of the school and what exactly is its scope and significance.
- Overall aims - The aims are developed within the ICT Policy as the long-term goals that the school seeks to achieve.
- Explain how the school will meet the requirements for the National Curriculum in terms of ICT capability development.
- A statement about how ICT will be used and ICT capability developed in all subjects of the curriculum.
- Summary of the ICT resources.
- Brief statement about health and safety use of ICT.
- Relate the policy to other policies.
- Refer to whatever teacher professional development and training, including how individual staff needs are identified and how progress is monitored.
- Describe how planning and teaching are monitored.
- Describe technical support.
- Acknowledge the extensive use of ICT by children outside of school.
- Make reference to the use of ICT for administration purposes.
- Refer briefly to legal or ethical issues including licencing, copyright and data protection.
Assessing the Current Policy - ICT Audit
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?
ICT policy for schools are important for any principal and teacher in the 21st century as more of the world awakens to the need for students have online skills such as information literacy and being able to actively participate in an technological-domoniated society.
This article has highlighted how the school ICT policy can serve as a way for teachers to work towards the school's ICT vision. However, an ICT policy in education needs to assessed annually if not every few years in order to keep up-to-date with the demands of society with technology.
Having a primary school ICT policy is of particular importance as they are at the forefront of learning progression in ICT capability in Australia, and teachers are expected to ensure that this occurs across the curriculum.