By Gerald Haigh
Schools are urged to be “data-driven” – or, if that seems too uncompromising, “data-enabled”.  As a result, management information systems (MIS) are so packed with grades and numbers (“We’re drowning in data,” to quote one secondary head of ICT) that schools are starting to employ  “data managers” who, to quote a recent job advert, “Lead staff through the target setting process, data analysis, value added data, Panda and Raise Online.”

Suppose, though, that much of that effort turns out to be misdirected – that the real problem isn’t just that there’s too much measurement, but that we’re actually measuring the wrong things. Heresy? Not at all, according to the experts.

By Maureen McTaggart
Brian DurrantBrian Durrant: 'exemplar city'The London Grid for Learning and its consortium of local authorities is one of the largest education networks in the world. But giving schools the whole gamut of digital technology services is not the complete vision, according to Brian Durrant, LGfL’s chief executive. The ultimate key for London, he says, is school leadership.

“It’s actually about us taking a step back and asking what it would take to make London the world exemplar city for the effective use of new technologies in teaching and learning,” he says. “Also what are the necessary and sufficient conditions to actually bring about the transformation of learning through ICT and a positive impact on attainment?”

Julian Joseph and Richard Michael lead improvisationJulian Joseph and Richard Michael lead improvisationHere’s one for music teachers and their students. Yamaha, provider of some of the coolest music technology, is running a jazz improvisation competition which commences this autumn.

Entry is free and prizes include gigs at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival and at Ronnie Scott’s and The 606, two of London’s most prestigious jazz venues. Yamaha will also be providing prizes for schools and community centres involved.

Leon CychLeon Cych: important videosOpen Source Schools (OSS), the organisation funded by government ICT agency Becta, had its first public airing this week with its “Unconference” at the National College for School Leadership in Nottingham. It was a fitting venue.

The healthy turnout of primary and secondary teachers, ICT advisers, and those working in capital projects and national agencies showed a wide range of interest and potential. It signalled readiness for some ramped-up national leadership backing to start exerting some real influence on behalf of schools. At a time when market analysts forecast at least a 4 per cent cut in education funding, open source obviously has a lot to offer - some carefully monitored pilots at the very least.

The Open University is recruiting to fill the 18 jobs that have been created thanks to its successful bid to run the Government’s programme of ICT training courses for teachers in schools (including special schools) and sixth-form colleges in England.

The initiative is worth £6.5 million to the OU and its partner, e-skills UK. It has been created to “support a step change in the quality of ICT teaching in English schools” according to the OU recruitment advertisement for staff for the nine new regional training centres.