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.
The vacancies are for nine centre managers and nine administrators and there is no vagueness about the qualifications applicants must possess. They include at least a first degree, knowledge of the English education system and, of course, expertise in using ICT for learning and teaching.
Courses are not due to start until January 2010 so the list is provisional but includes; rethinking multimedia (for literacy); keeping safe on the internet; school leadership; developing your vision (which will tie in with BSF and capital projects); accessibility and inclusivity in ICT; teaching and learning (also targeted at Sencos).
"We have to thrash out the detail," says Peter Twining, the programme's director, who is a former primary school teacher who became an academic in the 1990s. He added that the money from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) won't go very far and schools will have to find the funds to pay for courses. "It will only pay for things like infrastructure and development so there will be a cost to schools (which will help to cover services like venue hire, trainers and learning materials) although prices will be heavily subsidised and some will be free."
For example, the e-safety course, which at the moment is planned as a 30-hour online course, is expected to be £100. Face-to-face courses like ICT at key stage 3, consisting of either a one-day seminar or a series of eight one-hour twilight sessions will be around £120 and the one planned for network managers will probably run for two hours at a cost of £40.
Alongside the courses will be the free national website teachers can access to create personal blogs, sign up for courses, course materials, and add and edit materials. And as should be expected from a programme designed to provide high-quality, innovative continuing professional development to ICT teachers, there'll be a "virtual world" element. This will be something close to Peter Twining's heart as he set up the Second Life online learning community for 13 to 17-year-olds, Schome Park - "not school, not home, schome, the education system for the information age".
"We are currently negotiating which one to use and want to work with the [education] community as the expertise is out there,'" says Peter Twining. "Providing the course is only one aspect of what the programme is going to be doing. We have two important roles; one is looking at what is available out there and what is needed. We are trying to ensure we are filling the gaps and we are not going to be able to do this on our own so are collaborating with other providers such as subject associations and local authorities. And we have a role in helping to market not only our own provisions but everybody else’s as well."
Contracts are temporary from January 2010 until March 31, 2011 (funding for the second phase could see contracts extended to 2014) and regional centres will be based in London, Oxford, Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham, Cambridge, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle.
For a salary of between £36,532 and £43,622 (for regional centre managers) apart from appointing and training tutors, your duties as an advocate for the courses will also include securing “investment in training from school leaders and practitioners”.
"My view of CPD is that it should be a long-term, sustained relationship," said Peter Twining. "So there will be a national community for which we will provide the introduction and allow teachers to set up help groups and spaces for their own clusters of schools. It will be owned by the professional with us providing the infrastructure and supporting people to help them use the space."
Acknowledging the lack of a 'ring to' "ICT CPD Programme" he says they are working on a better name. For now though, he is inspired by the possibilities: “This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to work with the education community to help move our use of ICT in schools and colleges into the 21st century.”