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.
In this article, you will learn about:
- What a school ICT policy is;
- ICT policy early years;
- ICT policy in primary schools;
- Developing and maintaining ICT policy in schools.
What is a school ICT policy?
A school ICT policy is a document which 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 work within the school.
It is the school’s approach to achieving the vision for ICT capability and ICT literacy over a period of time.
ICT Policy Early Years
The role of technology in early childhood education is significant in the knowledge society where young children enter the early years learning environment with varying degrees of ICT capability.
ICT can be used by:
- Children to play and learn with;
- Children and early childhood teachers to use together to scaffold learning;
- Children and early childhood teachers to document and reflect on learning experiences and to share learning experiences.
Therefore, the ICT policy should reflect what is needed to extend children’s ICT capability and ICT literacy in their early childhood education.
It should also reflect elements addressed in the Statement on Young Children and Digital Technologies.
Another aspect which you need to address in the ICT policy for early childhood education is the explanation of how the school or centre will meet the national curriculum guidelines for ICT in the Foundation stages of Level 1 and 2. Additionally this will also need to contain the ICT experiences you would expect children to have in the Foundation stage and how this will address the goals of the Early Years Learning Framework.
For example, one of the main goals of early childhood teachers, whether they be in preschool or kindergarten, is to establish a baseline for a child’s ICT capability by seeking answers in relation to a child’s use of ICT at home. Thereafter, develop a plan to promote these capabilities in learning and play.
If early childhood learning environment is part of a P-6 or P-12 educational landscape, then the ICT policy should also form part of the whole school approach to developing ICT capability and ICT literacy starting in primary school.
ICT Policy for Primary School
ICT capability development learning progression is prevalent throughout the primary foundation to Year 6 curriculum.
Therefore, if the ICT policy is to address this then it needs to describe in detail how ICT will be used on a day-to-day basis and articulate the contribution which ICT makes to students’ learning.
Your school ICT policy needs to reflect the school’s needs.
It is essential to ensure:
Effective design, organisation and management of opportunities for students to develop their ICT capability in a coherent and progressive manner.
Clear communication within a school and between neighbouring schools.
ICT will be used by every student for every lesson so the ICT policy needs to hold together the ways ICT will be implemented in lessons throughout the school.
You should be familiar with other relevant documents including school policies on assessment, special needs and equal opportunities just to name a few examples.
The school ICT policy is what you do, not what you write. It will be important that you set goals for your colleagues that achievable.
A few other points to remember include:
- ICT policy only works if it is well supported by the senior management team.
- ICT policy only works well if all those people who are going to implement it, including teachers, teacher assistants and any technician support you may have, feel a sense of ownership, and feel that their voices have been heard.
- It is perfectly possible to write extremely long and detailed policy documents that nobody takes much notice of, in which case you have wasted your time. Err on the side of brevity.
- Write your ICT policy in everyday language, avoiding unnecessary jargon.
(Fox, 2003, p. 30)
Developing and Maintaining the School ICT Policy
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?