More needed on standards to make IT in schools work, says policy commission

Former government minister Charles Clarke ,...

Former government minister Charles Clarke, has presented the findings and recommendations of a major policy commission into the needs of the education system, with IT featuring heavily.

Commissioned by BESA (British Educational Suppliers Association) as part of its 75th anniversary, the policy commission is the result of contributions from educators and leaders in schools and colleges, local authority advisers and inspectors, educational suppliers, publishers, industry consultants and others involved within education.

As far as IT is concerned, former education minister Clarke said, "Responses to the commission were positive about the need for technology in schools. However, interoperability of hardware and software was seen as key.

"Recommendations include involving Becta, the government's ICT agency, in the development of standards, partnering with industry and using its expertise."

The report concludes, "Technology, whether used in an institution or at home, must play a full and seamless part in supporting personalised learning and the gathering of relevant assessment data.

"There is an expectation that learning when and wherever it suits the student is crucial, including encouraging greater involvement of parents and carers in the process.

"Interoperability of content, software and hardware is key to these goals, and standards to guarantee compatibility and interoperability are required."

The commission recommends:

  • Becta should lead the development of such standards. In particular, Becta can bring the dimension of understanding international standards development to ensure the widest compatibility and competitiveness
  • This leadership should be in partnership with industry so that there is joint ownership of the outcomes
  • Becta needs broader support to take this lead and a developed relationship with industry to achieve the mutual confidence to act swiftly
  • The government and its Information Standards Board should charge Becta with this initiative and BESA in turn will commit to drawing industry into necessary developmental processes.

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