Technology in Schools

Here’s a great short article that sets out the seven rules for technology use in schools from the author of ‘The Tech Commandments’, Adam S Bellow. The rules he set out here really resonated with me and are very much in accord with the way that our thinking has gone to shape the school’s IT policy recently:

Seven Golden Rules for Technology

In pursuit of the first rule, we have been moving towards a hybrid approach – still having computer labs, but also putting a small number of network connections and PCs in to each classroom.

If there was to be an eighth rule here, one that flows out of many of the others in my opinion is that technology in school is no longer the domain of a small ‘geek brigade’ of teachers and technicians who ‘teach computers’. They used to be the people to oversee those special rooms where the computers were. Now the technology is everyone’s business and nobody’s special domain.

The Role of Librarians in the Twenty First Century

This follows on from a piece I put on the blog here on 19th June about how technology was changing the role of libraries in schools.

This is a series of short articles from the New York Times looking at varied perspectives on the fact that in the US as schools and education authorities look for ways to cut budgets many are cutting librarian roles:

New York Times: Room for Debate on School Librarians

Of all the pieces, the fifth one really resonated with me for all that the librarian can and should be in a modern school library. Others also allude to the fact that as the world has changed, the needs from education have changed. As we place greater emphasis on preparation for lifelong learning, the role of the librarian becomes, i believe, even more critical. The library/ learning resource centre is the place where a child begins to take their own tentative steps to self ownership and mastery of digital and paper knowledge. It’s the place where they are not told what to read when, what to think about it or how to prove the knowledge arising out of their reading. It’s a place where they can be empowered.

It’s why I believe that whatever the financial constraints, libraries should never be neglected – rather they should be placed at the very centre of school life.

Changing Approach to Inclusion in Britain

Here’s a fascinating article from The Independent newspaper in UK looking at the proposed government changes to policy and legislation on inclusion of children with special needs in mainstream schools.

The Independent article

I first became aware of the debate that was raging in UK around 3-4 years ago. As stated in the article, it was the Warnock Report that did more than anything else to shape the policy in the UK over the last 40 years. The policy had resulted in all but around 120,000 children with special needs being moved in to mainstream schools. Sometimes this included children with very significant mental and/ or physical challenges to be accommodated. One of the results of this was that large numbers of special schools and units had to close down because they had insufficient students. This meant that for the small number of children who were not joining the mainstream schools, they were faced with long and challenging commutes to the nearest special school.

Around 5-6 years ago Baroness Warnock shocked the SEN community when she openly questioned what she and her colleagues had done over all those years. Her new perspective was that whilst the decisions made and actions resulting from them were for all the right ideological and ethical reasons, somewhere they had been ruled too much by their hearts. The result – children in mainstream schools where neither they or their classmates benefited from their presence. Reading between the lines I conclude that the perception was that the presence of the children with the most challenging individual needs caused unavoidable distraction from the overall needs of a class of students and even then too often that individual child’s needs also got compromised.

Our awareness of these UK debates and history have played some part in the shaping of the TSRS approach to inclusion for special needs students since 2007. As a result, we have limited the numbers of SEN children in a class and been careful to limit to those children who we believe have the capability to transact a curriculum in a group setting. Throughout, we have sought to ensure that the needs of the individual child and the rest of the children in the class are not brought in to conflict. Whilst this always scope to improve, we’re pretty happy with the achievements to date. Where success has been achieved it has been in large part down to a very high calibre special educators working alongside mainstream teachers who were open and receptive to doing things in new ways to meet changed scenarios in the classroom.

For the longer term, a debate goes on about how TSRS might support the needs of children who don’t meet these criteria for inclusive education, especially as we are painfully aware that there is a massive shortfall in provision currently. However, no definite plans to report just yet.

IB Results – Batch of 2009-2011

We had already seen very strong results from our students this year in ICSE, ISC and NIOS, so we were waiting for this week’s International Baccalaureate results with keen anticipation. They haven’t disappointed us.

Attached is a short summary of the results highlights:

IB Results TSRS 2009-2011

Special congratulations must go to Bhavya Bishnoi, last year’s Head of Student Council at Phase III campus who really pulled out the stops and put maximum effort in – rewarded with 43 points, the highest aggregate score so far achieved by a TSRS student. I understand he will be heading off to the London School of Economics for further studies and wish him well.

In the same week as the results come out it’s interesting to see an international survey conclude that the IB Diploma is “the top passport to international education”. A lot of parents we talk with suggest that as they are aware of students going overseas to top universities after taking ISC, there is inadequate justification to direct their child towards the IB Diploma. However, this article from the New York Times looking at those survey results suggests otherwise:

New York Times Article

The article is also interesting in terms of some of the observations given by top universities in the world about what they are seeking in candidates.

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