At the BETT show the Schools Minister, Jim Knight, opened the exhibition by laying out the DCSF policy initiatives for the future. One of the foci was on the government target for secondary schools to provide access to real-time reporting information, such as attendance and assessment information, for parents & carers by September 2010. 2010 is also the deadline for all schools to provide a personalised learning platform for their pupils, with access outside of school hours.
In his opening speech, the Minister demonstrated the Shireland Learning Gateway, a portal which meets these government objectives. It has been developed, over a number of years, on top of the Microsoft Learning Gateway - a framework designed to help schools, colleges and universities to create an interactive portal to support communication, collaboration and learning inside and outside of school. Now their solution is being used by a further 100 schools, providing a Learning Platform for a variety of secondary and primary schools across the country.
Earlier in the year, before the college changed name to the Shireland Collegiate Academy, we made a video of the work happening at Shireland, including an illuminating interview with Sir Mark Grundy, the Executive Principal of the Academy. If you haven't seen it before, then either click above to watch the embedded video, or view the printed case study and high resolution video on our worldwide case studies website.
In the last year, Shireland have teamed up with LP+, to make their learning platform available to more schools, which allows Shireland to focus on creating great interactive learning resources, whilst LP+ concentrate on running the servers and technology in the background. And at BETT, they announced a new partnership with O2, to provide students with a choice of mobile access devices, unlimited internet access and a LP+ subscription - all for a fixed monthly cost. And security and child protection are built in, as each package comes with O2's anti-bullying, controlled browsing and child support, as standard.
I don't know if this kind of flexibility and access is going to be made available from other learning platform providers, but it certainly provides an interesting way forward for schools to consider - providing students with every part of the solution to using ICT within and outside of the classroom. It is an alternative route to the Universal Home Access model announced by Jim Knight, all of which points to this year being the year of 1:1 access for students.