Mind the gap. School leadership organisations welcome new support programme for ICT
Hannah JonesHannah JonesThe dramatic staff cutbacks that started the moment the Coalition Government came to power have already stimulated new services for schools and academies, including a brand new leadership programme for ICT called EXite – Exploiting Information Technology in Education.

This is a new take on the original SLICT (Strategic Leadership of ICT) intervention programme, led by two of the directors of the original project, Hannah Jones and Mike Briscoe. And it has already won the support and backing of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the Independent Academies Association (IAA).

“NAHT positively welcome this news,” says the organisation's general secretary Russell Hobby. “Members have seen that there is a gap since the ending of the excellent SLICT programme and NAHT are pleased to be engaged with EXite and is sure its members will gain great value from it. School leaders are looking to lead and manage technology well and will value the credibility of the two organisations behind this new programme."

Schools have entered a new era with ICT

Schools have entered a new era with ICT with learning platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Google Apps, Moodle, Twitter, Microsoft's free live@edu email service and greater use of web 2.0 technologies. But how free is free, and can schools really count on 'free' ICT services for mission critical work?

New technologies bring new anxieties, and while many schools simply ban mobile phones, some school leaders are managing to safely exploit the power of personal technologies for their students. They do this by developing their strategic leadership so that new technologies can be brought into service as and when they are appropriate, whether that's for the curriculum or for management.

To embrace these new developments, school leaders need to review their present leadership, data and curriculum and models of teaching and learning with ICT provision. They need to be aware of best practice in other schools, be given the opportunity to consider how ICT can challenge their present models of learning and be provided with tools and models to ensure their strategies are robust and future thinking.

The EXite Leadership Programme is designed to support leaders and their workforce to think through these issues, review best practice and plan for sustainable change. It has been designed by two recently formed companies, Connecting Learning and IET Associates, whose directors – Hannah Jones and Mike Briscoe respectively – have unparalleled experience at national levels  in delivering high-quality programmes that bring together the leadership agenda, technology potential and pragmatic, high-quality peer support. (Both organisations have strategic relationships with the IAA.)

Hannah Jones, formerly with the National College for the Leadership of Schools, Colleges and Children's Services, and Mike Briscoe, previously at Becta, were both directors of the highly influential SLICT programme. Over seven years this national project reached more than 13,000 school leaders and developed a strong national and International reputation.

“SLICT was a highly successful programme in its time and recognised by Ofsted and others as a strong agent for change,” says Hannah Jones. “Now, at a time of severe education cutbacks when there are deep worries about ICT policy, heads’ understanding of strategic leadership with ICT has never been so important for making wise purchasing decisions that can realise their desired savings and maximise ICT's potential for supporting and extending learning.”

Gove beginning to acknowledge importance of ICT for learning and teaching

The announcement of the programme is timely as education secretary Michael Gove MP begins to acknowledge the importance of new technologies for leadership and teaching and learning. “In addition to the debate over what is taught, and the issue of who does the teaching, we also need to think about how the teaching takes place,” Mr Gove said recently in a speech on maths and science at the Royal Society. “We need to change curricula, tests and teaching to keep up with technology, and technology itself is changing curricula, tests, and teaching.”

The new EXite Leadership Programme, due to be piloted in September 2011 and rolled out from January 2012, will bring together best practice and utilise the expertise of leaders within successful schools and academies. It will provide a framework of professional development opportunities for school leaders to engage with as they review the use of, strategically plan for and embed new technologies in their schools in order to achieve better learning outcomes and raise standards.

The elements of EXite include face-to-face professional development days, online materials, toolkits, resources and Skype workshops – all of which will be led by experts and school leaders from the EXite team.  All programmes will be delivered over approximately four months and it is the EXite policy to deliver face-to-face events in schools or academies.

"Keeping ICT up to date is expensive and schools cannot afford to waste resources," says ASCL general secretary Brian Lightman. "They need the right tools and information to strategically plan how they can use available technology to best improve teaching and learning.

"The ASCL is delighted to support the EXite programme launch and we encourage our members to find out more,”

Mike BriscoeMike Briscoe

EXite's Mike Briscoe concludes: “It’s excellent to have the full backing and support of headteacher unions and member organisations. These partnerships ensure that the needs of school leaders are being met and that we are constantly utilising the experience within academies and schools, providing a framework for high-performing academies and schools to others that would benefit from their expertise.”

More information

The EXite Leadership Programme
National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)
Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL)
Independent Academies Association (IAA)

Hannah Jones
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel: 07795 278532 
Mike Briscoe
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel: 07969 977388