Friday, 6 May 2011

ICT Mark changes - a summary

Firstly - it's definitely still here which is great news. For those who don't know ICT Mark has become the benchmark for schools to review their ICT management against looking at the 6 key elements of:

  1. Leadership and management

  2. Planning

  3. Learning

  4. Assessment

  5. Professional development

  6. Resources

The self-review framework website, and the assessment process, were both part of Becta's work - with the management of this contracted to Naace. Since Becta has left the stage it has been confirmed that the ICT Mark will now be endorsed by the Department for Education. A recent email to schools from Naace includes the phrase "Naace is delighted to announce that it has received a concession from the Department for Education to continue to administer and quality assure the ICT Mark for Schools". This means that the transfer process is incredibly seemless.

There are a few changes, however, which are worth highlighting.

  • The cost of initial assessment has changed to three bands £400, £550 and £650 depending on the size of the school.

  • From 1st June 2011 a method will be put in place for some schools to renew the ICT Mark by conducting a remote assessment. This should reduce the cost for renewing schools and can be used up to 6 months after the expiry date. It looks like to be eligible for this remote assessment the school will need to evidence that they have continued the self-review process and have documented progress on the identified areas of improvement.

  • Schools who have prepared for ICT Mark renewal with support from a Licensed ICT Mark consultant will result in a reduction in fees depending on the report the consultant passes on to NAACE.

  • The ICT Mark has long been the benchmark of good practice. Naace are developing a further accreditation stage for schools who demonstrate excellent practice.
Details concerning all these changes are available on the ICT Mark pages on the Naace website.
Redbridge has an Intermediary Model arrangement enabling assessments to be done at significantly lower prices. If you are in a Redbridge maintained school please get in touch to find out how you could benefit from this.

Alex Rees

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Redbridge Technicians Forum - Thursday 19th May 2011

The Technician's Forum is open for all technical staff within Redbridge Schools to network and gain from some thought provoking presentations, opportunities to share good practice and find out what is going on in other schools across the borough.

Your place will cost £35 (to cover administration, venue and refreshments) but if your school subscribes to School Improvement services there is no extra cost. This is very useful CPD at a very low price! Book your place now on the website.

This will be the 6th RTF meeting and on the agenda we will look at Microsoft's new licencing process, managing large projects and different ways to manage printing across the school. We will, of course, also ensure you are up to date with what is going on across the borough.

Feedback from the last meeting shows over 90% of attendees said it was 'worthwhile' or 'very worthwhile' attending. Delegates listed a variety of particularly good points, including statements like "all sessions had information relevant for my role", "[I valued the] professional input from suppliers" and "updating with local authority information [was] very useful". Book now on!

Alex Rees

(If you are not a Redbridge maintained school and would like to attend please contact us.)

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

School breaches Data Protection Act

A school in Oldham had a laptop stolen from a teacher's car. Following this press release from the information commissioner’s office several issues have returned to the forefront of senior managers' minds within schools:

• Which data is included in the Data Protection Act?
• What should we be advising staff on the use of laptops?
• What should we be advising staff generally?
• What encryption systems are considered acceptable?
• Should we have a policy on this?

This blog post will respond to these common questions and give you a starting point if you are considering these issues yourself.

What data is included in the DPA?

Fundamental to the Data Protection Act is the need to protect data “which relates to a living individual who can be identified”. It includes “expression of opinion” (e.g. school reports) and “indication of the intentions of the data controller” (e.g. the school’s plan to involve an external adviser to review a child’s behaviour). Summary data is not included. For example a graph summarising last year’s exam data would not be a problem, but a list of which students got what grades would be.

For more detail on what personal data is see this quick reference guide from the ICO.

What should we be advising staff on the use of laptops?

If laptops simply contain teaching materials there is no problem. If the laptop may contain pupil or staff data as well then you must have taken reasonable steps to protect it. ‘Reasonable’ is redefined as technology changes. It has included in the past password protecting the computer, password protecting the file and now it is considered standard to use encryption as it is now a mature technology. (See below for further details.)

The Redbridge advice to council staff in the workplace is:
• If you leave your laptop switched on but unattended you must activate the password protected screensaver.

When out and about:
• Only use encrypted removable media approved by ICT Services
• Never leave your laptop unattended and never allow anyone else to use your laptop
• Beware of your surroundings when working out of the office. Consider the location you choose with care. Ensure you are not easily overlooked and never open documents or communications that are of a commercial or personally sensitive nature.
• Ensure you are not exposing your laptop to opportunistic theft.
• Only connect to approved or known wireless networks.

This advice is quoted from "Laptop User, Mobile Working and Removable Media Security Guidelines".
Redbridge Schools may obtain the full document on request.

What should we be advising staff generally?

The data security advice available on the LGFL website includes the following list of Do's and Don'ts - courtesy of Brent Council:

• Strictly limit access to personal data to those who need it to do their jobs.
• Tailor the subset of data users can see to that required to do their job.
• Enforce the use of strong passwords that contain both numbers & capital letters.
• Enforce regular password changes that do not allow users to reuse old passwords.
• Regularly review users & rights to ensure that these reflect job needs, they are current & correct.
• Do ensure that remote access to the school network is limited & that connections are encrypted.
• Limit & control the personal data that is taken from the school on portable devices (Memory sticks, PDAs, Laptops etc.)
• Ensure that all personal data that is taken out of the school is in encrypted form.
• Ensure that personal & other data is regularly backed up & that a copy is securely stored off-site wherever possible.
• Ensure that all file servers that contain personal data are in a secure, normally locked location.
• Ensure that PCs that have regular access to personal data through the logged in user are provided with a password protected screensaver.

• Allow any personal data to be taken from the school in unencrypted form on removable media (memory sticks, portable hard disks etc.) or on laptops, netbooks or PDAs.
• Allow remote access to fileservers using products such as PCAnywhere or Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection software.
• Post unencrypted spreadsheets or databases containing personal data on public facing web sites.
• Post children’s photos on school websites without ensuring that no personal details are present in the file name or metadata.
• Do not allow children’s photos to be downloadable from school web sites by right-clicking the image.
• Allow remote access to file servers from “Any IP Address” without strictly limiting the range ports that are opened.

Your school will need to ensure that this is communicated on to staff. Many schools achieve this by having an Acceptable Use Policy which is signed by staff on an annual basis.

What encryption systems are considered acceptable?

Current advice from the Information Commissioners Office states:
"Encryption software uses a complex series of embedded mathematical algorithms to protect and encrypt information. This process hides the data and prevents any inadvertent access or unauthorised disclosure of information. Since encryption standards are always evolving, it is recommended that data controllers ensure that any solution which is implemented, meets the current standard such as the recommended FIPS 140-2 (cryptographic modules, software and hardware) and FIPS – 197."

USB keys are on the market using FIPS 140-2 level of encryption costing upwards of £40 (examples here) and laptop encryption software costing about £90 per device (example here) . The cost of these might prevent a school from encrypting all laptops, however, choosing to encrypt key laptops (e.g. those used by the senior management team) may well be appropriate.

N.B. By listing these example products, LBR is not recommending them, simply demonstrating that such products exist.

Make sure you have discussed within your school which devices need to be encrypted and take steps to ensure that this is done.

Should we have a policy on this?

The simple answer is ‘Yes’. Should you wish to review your current policy then you may like to look at the following template policy listed on the LGfL website.

What should we do now?

The Information Commissioners Office have asked the school (the ‘data controller’) to undertake a set of actions as follow up from this security breach. You could use this list as a checklist for your own school, making sure the following takes place:

(1) Portable and mobile devices including laptops and other portable media used to store and transmit personal data, the loss of which could cause damage or distress to individuals, are encrypted using encryption software which meets the current standard or equivalent;

(2) Staff are aware of the data controller’s policy for the storage and use of personal data and are appropriately trained how to follow that policy;

(3) Compliance with the data controller’s policies on data protection and IT security issues is appropriately and regularly monitored;

(4) The data controller shall implement such other security measures as it deems appropriate to ensure that personal data is protected against unauthorised and unlawful process, accidental loss, destruction, and/or damage.

Further reading on this topic from the Becta archive available here. Should you have any further questions please get in touch with myself, the Redbridge ICT Unit, or your ICT support provider.

Alex Rees

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Learnmeet 2011 - 1st July 2011

What is a Learnmeet?
"This year the Redbridge Games Network is running an event to celebrate the creative, inspiring and innovative work carried out in schools - but it has a slight twist. We are all used to teachers talking about their work, this time it will be the children in the classes showing off what they have done."

There is extensive detail about this initiative on the Redbridge Games Network website. I am very much looking forward to supporting this event and celebrating with schools the excellent work that is taking place across in Redbridge Schools.

Whilst the idea has come out of the enthusiasm of the Redbridge ICT team it is not necessary for the idea to be the result of an ICT lesson. In fact, some of the best innovatory practice we have seen has been when technology has been applied successfully to other subject areas. Technology can speed up or slow down time, allow students to model complex systems, to meet and collaborate with people on the other side of the globe, to become the author, the video editor, the presenter in their own learning.

On the RGN website the Learnmeet entries will be judged on the following:
  • Impact factor – Number of children who benefited from the project;
  • Innovation factor – The innovative way of using technology;
  • Learning factor – The quality of learning shown;
  • Inspiration factor – Could you inspire other schools to do it too?;
  • Wow factor – Make us go wow!
Could your class do that? Events like this provide the opportunity for students to experience and present learning in a situation they may remember forever! They will also be able to see and hear from other students and schools. I am pleased to be supporting the Redbridge Games Network in this initiative and am already looking forward to the 1st July!

Alex Rees

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Where are the resources now?

Becta is no more, the removal of the National Strategies website has left many members of the education community feeling more than a little bereft, and Teachers TV is soon to follow suit. In these changing times we can be reassured that electronic resources are rarely lost - simply relocated. This is a quick post to say where things are now.


The main Becta website was 'captured' by the National Archive service on 30th January 2011, a day before the website closed.

It will possible to access indefinitely by clicking on the image to right or using this link.

Becta also ran a second website - Next Generation Learning - which was known by some staff as their 'Wow' website. It was intended to provide information quickly about technology in schools to a wide audience. It was also promoted to parents in national newspapers.

This website was archived on the same day and is available here.

National Strategies:

This website was archived on the 5th April 2011 and is the latest archive available. All these resources are available here.

Teachers TV:

The current site is still live but "The Department [for Education] is making all 3,500 15min Teachers TV programmes and related content freely available on a non-exclusive basis" (DfE website). Whilst the twittersphere is talking about downloading the content to non-Governmental servers the DfE is clearly planning a method by which we can all maintain access to the majority of the content. When a URL for the new site becomes available this blog will be updated.

These archives will become a very interesting snapshot for historians in years to come of what education looked like by the end of the Labour Government 1997-2010. The technology schools used, the pedagogical advice teachers were provided with and the videos of how this then looked in practice will all be archived. What will be of tremendous interest to all is how much of this will all seem dated in this new world of academies, free schools and the eBacc, and what will stand the test of time.

Alex Rees

Thursday, 27 January 2011

eSafety ideas for schools

As promised the Redbridge LSCB eSafety subgroup have compiled a set of eSafety ideas to start the thinking going in preparation for Safer Internet Day 2011 - 8th February. Whatever age group you work with, from KS1 to KS5 here are some discussion starters, assembly ideas, lesson activities, competitions and even links to age-appropriate posters.

All the resources are available from weblinks given within the document, although some interactive resources will only work for London schools. This document is not a comprehensive list of everything, rather a start point for teachers thinking and planning for eSafety lessons.

SID2011 - School Planning

Ofsted say that in outstanding schools "In the five schools where provision for e-safety was outstanding, all the staff, including members of the wider workforce, shared responsibility for it. Assemblies, tutorial time, personal, social, health and education lessons, and an age-appropriate curriculum for e-safety all helped pupils to become safe and responsible users of new technologies."

Get everyone involved, be creative and get the message heard.

Alex Rees

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

eSafety information direct to your MLE

There are various eSafety feeds available to access. Redbridge has its own one running for this half term in preparation for Safer Internet Day on 8th Feb. It will be updated at least 3 times a day over the next few weeks allowing eSafety messages and discussion starters to filter out during this period.

The information feed is managed through the social networking system Twitter and is available to see by going to Twitter limits information to 140 characters and so this is just long enough to give an interesting fact, signpost a useful resource or some interesting research and give the web link. Take a look at the feed to get an idea of the sort of information. (Web links are often given in their smallest possible format – e.g. - as defined by the Twitter website being used and the code #SID2011 is used to label this piece of information as related to Safer Internet Day 2011.)

We recommend you add the feed to your online staffrooms, or with older students you may like to add it directly to PSHE pages that they access to start discussions. If you use twitter yourself you may like to ‘Follow’ the username @LBR_eSafety to get updates to your own account.

A quick 'how to’ guide if you are using Fronter

To link this feed into Fronter you need the ‘RSS feed’ code:

1. Go to the page where you want to the information feed to appear and add a container onto the page.

2. From the list of possible things to include in your page you will see “Inset Dynamic Today Element”. If you select this one of your options will be for an ‘RSS feed’.

3. This will add a section onto your web page for RSS feeds. You now need to click “Edit RSS Feed” which will take you to a screen where you can “Add RSS feed”.

4. Copy the RSS feed code above into the box labelled “Url to RSS”, choose a number of articles to display (e.g. 8) and don’t worry about displaying the abstract. Save your changes by clicking Save.

5. Now return to your page and you should see a set of information articles appear signposting interesting eSafety information or resources.

Last note
If you work in a Redbridge school and would like us to add the RSS feed to your online staffroom please get in touch and one of us may be able to do this for you.

Alex Rees