Laurie O'DonnellLaurie O'Donnell: right timeLaurie O'Donnell, director of learning and technology with Learning and Teaching Scotland, is stepping down after eight years with the organisation. He leaves LTS in the summer to start his own business working in the same field.

He has been at the heart of a renaissance of ICT and innovative learning and teaching in Scotland and was named by the George Lucas Educational Foundation as one of its "Global Six" top educators in 2008. "It just feels like the right time for me to move on and build on the wonderful experience I have had at LTS," he says. "In the rapidly changing world of learning and technology, eight years is a long time to stay in the same place. (Full interview with Laurie O'Donnell on Futurelab website here.)

José PicardoJosé Picardo: good advocateJosé Picardo is an ideal advocate for open source software for schools. He's a teacher (head of a modern languages department) and he's "non-techie". Most important, he explains it all in plain English.

That's exactly what he did at The Education Show in Birmingham this week (March 26-28). And the presentation is now available on the Open Source Schools website. It's a really useful introduction for anyone wanting to know more about the philosophy and the kinds of software that's available for schools. And it gives enough information about software like Open Office, Audacity, Wordpress and Gimp for any teacher to start clicking on weblinks to to get involved. They'll have tools to do everything from word processing and spreadsheets to blogs and websites.

John GallowayGohn Galloway: handbook for reformBy Maureen McTaggart

“I do lots of things that are very interesting that don’t entail sitting at a desk doing admin”, says John Galloway. A bit of an understatement by the 50-year-old who combines his job as a part-time advisory teacher for ICT, SEN and inclusion for Tower Hamlets with regular employment as a lecturer, BSF consultant for RM (the leading education ICT provider), journalist and writer.

In the latter he is indeed prolific. His current publication Harnessing Technology for Every Child Matters and Personalised Learning, a handbook for continuing professional development, has enjoyed a good review in the Guardian, very timely for the BETT 2009 educational technology show) and joins a long list of other Galloway titles.

Ollie BrayOllie Bray: Innovative Teacher AwardThe potential of games technology for schools, and pioneering work in Scottish schools in particular, were given international recognition in Vienna yesterday (March 26) at the European finals of Microsoft’s prestigious Innovative Teachers Awards.

Ollie Bray, depute headteacher of Musselbrough Grammar School, East Lothian, Scotland, took first place in the Innovation in Community section for his presentation of “Thinking out of the XBOX” at the Innovative Teachers Forum 2009 (full results below). The winners from the European forum now go on to take part in the Worldwide Innovative Teachers Conference in Brazil in November.

Special needs and ICT expert Sally Mckeown has won her claim of unfair dismissal against Becta at an Employment Tribunal. Sally McKeown worked for Becta, the government ICT agency, for 17 years, and was its recognised expert on dyslexia and adults with disabilities.

Despite public criticism last year about a staff re-structuring that outside observers considered a downgrading of Becta's public profile as a centre of expertise for ICT and special needs, the organisation had insisted that the team members had been offered suitable alternative employment.
The tribunal ruled that Sally had in fact been unfairly dismissed. The tribunal concluded that Becta had not taken Sally’s specialist skills into account when considering alternative employment.

In addition to noting that Becta failed to address Sally’s concerns, the tribunal concluded that it had carried out no real planning for the “virtual” inclusion team, and that there had been a “complete lack of detail” on how the virtual team would function following the restructure. A date has been fixed to determine the compensation to be paid by Becta.

Sally McKeown is currently running training for learning support assistants, and writes a regular column on ICT for gifted and talented pupils. Now a freelance consultant, writer and trainer, she can be contacted at:
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