Age range: 5-11
Number of pupils: 65
Self-review Framework lead: Leanne Winterton
Self-review Framework completion: Autumn 2005 ending with ICT Mark assessment in early 2006.

For many years, Rodmell C of E Primary School has prided itself on being a leading-edge school as far as technology is concerned. But, never one to rest on its laurels, the school decided in 2005 to undertake a review of technology using the newly published Becta Self-review Framework. Headteacher Julie Claxton says,

“We believed that we were a very good school with ICT but needed a well-researched audit to identify any gaps in what we do and to give us the confidence to move forward with ICT. The local authority told us we were outstanding with ICT but that we would still benefit from using the self-review framework.”

ICT Co-ordinator Leanne Winterton says,

“The process was thorough and rigorous and really made us think about what we were doing. As we worked through the self-review framework it gave us confidence to think strategically and challenged us to review some of the ways in which we were managing ICT at a whole-school level. At the end of the process we had a much better understanding of the complexity of ICT and felt that we were in a strong position to develop further.”

The review process was spread over the autumn term of 2005. Fortunately, the school had a student in school during this period which freed up some of Leanne’s time for the self-review. As a small school, all the staff were involved and the governors also took a keen interest in the process as it evolved. Leanne says,

“During this time we also involved the pupils in what we were doing. We wanted them to see that we were taking ICT seriously and they needed to know that we were planning good things for them. As each cohort of children progresses through the school we need to be sure that they are getting an exciting and relevant ICT experience which is up to date, well-informed and the best possible practice.”

After completing the self-review framework the school decided that it should put itself forward for recognition by the ICT Mark, and this was awarded early in 2006. Staff and governors felt that this was a good final check against a national standard and would set the benchmark for further improvements over the following years. Although it was good to get the ICT Mark, Leanne believes that it was the underlying process that was so helpful in enabling them to gain an understanding of the bigger picture of how ICT was underpinning learning. The school is still developing its ICT and uses the self-review framework as a reference point to assess effectiveness of developments.

Headteacher Julie Claxton says,

“ICT is a key issue for education in the 21st century – it is central to effective learning and we wanted to be sure pupils and staff were making the best possible use of ICT. Using the self-review framework helped us to achieve that.”

For schools currently considering embarking on Becta’s self-review framework, Rodmell School offers the following advice:

•You need everyone on board. Prepare well and spend time making sure everyone – teachers, classroom assistants, parents, governors and others involved in the school – understands what is going on.
•The ICT co-ordinator is key to the process. He or she won’t be responsible for undertaking every aspect of the review, but will be responsible for leading the process. Make sure that they are given the time to manage the activity.
•Don’t be overwhelmed by the self-review framework when you first see it. It is detailed but it is set out in such a way that you can tackle it in stages.
•Don’t feel that, just because you may be some way from achieving the higher levels in some aspects of the self-review framework, you shouldn’t bother with it. The whole point of using it is to identify areas for improving your provision for ICT and to plan your development process.
•On the other hand, if you are already a good school with ICT, don’t rest on your laurels. Each cohort of pupils deserves the best provision you can make for them and in a fast-growing area such as ICT you need to be on top of the issues.
•Make sure that you see the self-review framework as a tool for longer term planning not just for short-term gains.
Rodmell is regarded as a leading-edge school with ICT. In 2008 it was short-listed for the Becta ICT Excellence Awards and ICT Coordinator Leanne Winterton is working with the Becta Leading Leaders initiative. The school provides Hands-On Support for the local authority and was a SLICT Host School. Notwithstanding this expertise, the school has benefited significantly from using the self-review framework and looks forward to continuing development and excellence with ICT.