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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

The Capacity of ICT to Transform Teaching and Learning: A Critical View from Within a Building Schools for the Future Project

Haw, David (2015) The Capacity of ICT to Transform Teaching and Learning: A Critical View from Within a Building Schools for the Future Project. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


Announced in 2003, Building Schools for the Future (BSF) was New Labour’s attempt to revolutionise secondary education in the UK, both in terms of infrastructure and pedagogy. The country’s school building stock was decades (and in some cases centuries) old and in poor repair, built for a different age with a history of lack of investment in modern technologies. BSF was to change all that with massive investment and plans to transform teaching and learning. The new buildings were to be of contemporary and revolutionary design more akin to modern office spaces than their Victorian predecessors. Each school project had £1,400 per pupil (approximately £1.4m) of its budget ‘ring fenced’ to be spent on Information Communication Technology (ICT), as this was to be a major transformational tool; the key to equipping students with the skills needed for a 21st Century economy. This Doctorate report is written from within one of the first BSF projects in the country, planned from 2005 and opened in 2007, with the ICT contract coming to an end in 2014. The author is the only surviving member of the original BSF planning team still working within the LA as a Deputy Head Teacher.
The main research questions ‘To what extent and in what ways has the huge investment in ICT during BSF transformed teaching and learning and what was the perspective of this from the three main stakeholder groups; those leading, those teaching and those learning?’ sets out to investigate the impact of the ICT component of BSF, it does however also reflect on the BSF process as a whole because this set the context in which the ICT systems were deployed; through a Managed Service Provider (MSP) procured from the private sector. This contract cast a long shadow over the prospect of transformation as BSF became largely about procurement, contracts and cost, the ‘B’ prevailed; teaching and learning were marginalized. Another major influence was that the schools in BSF re-opened in the same educational climate of accountability, curriculum, timetables and assessment methodology as they had had in their old accommodation. Conflicting government policy streams only served to make this more evident. Teacher and pupils assimilated their new environments and continued as before.
That is not to say the ICT did not have an impact; there were many positive outcomes ranging from a greatly reduced pupil to device ratios and multimedia lesson content readily available to all. Pupils in particular were delighted (initially at least) with their new environments. Communication and the sharing of ideas and resources were the result of modern networks and systems that meant efficiencies for some and up to date information for most.
Overall, classroom teachers had little capacity to transform their professional lives with the ICT provision, and there was no real pressure for them to do so given the unchanged nature of the structures of education within which they worked. Although many saw the potential of the new ICT, the opportunities to improve their skills were frustratingly lacking or not suited to their needs, consequently most incorporated the ICT into their classroom practice at a level with which they were comfortable.
The cancellation of BSF in 2011 was one of the first acts of the new coalition government, although the schools included in this work had a managed ICT service that ran until August 2014. At the end of this contract schools were left with both expensive change and refresh costs that were likely to be a financial burden many could ill afford and so they were hindered in their ability to embrace newer technologies that might assist transformation.

David_Haw_Report_pv2.pdf - Accepted Version

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Depositing User: Barry Hall


Item ID: 5763

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Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2015 10:52
Last Modified: 20 May 2019 13:31


Author: David Haw

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Education > Learning Technology

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