Naace Conference Introduction

Mar 07, 2013

Miles Berry

The text of my welcome from the programme for the 2013 Naace Conference.

It has been an interesting year for those concerned with advancing education through technology.

The relentless pressure of Moore’s Law makes for a fresh wave of devices and desires. More and more pupils have smart phones. More and more pupils, and teachers, have tablets. Increasing numbers of schools are finding ways to provide 1:1 access to technology, either as class sets, loaned devices or permitting pupils to use their own computers, in one form factor or another. Ubiquitous access to the whole of the web is transformative for learning, but it’s only in the schools at the cutting edge, such as those recognised in Naace’s Impact and 3rd Millennium Learning awards that we see evidence of this being transformative for schooling too. I’m hopeful that what’s innovative this year will be commonplace before long.

At conference last year, we heard about a server-free school. We see more and more areas of applications which were once confined to the desktop or laptop now routinely delivered over the web. This opens up so many opportunities for genuinely collaborative work, with the network, in both human and technical senses, becoming the real locus of learning. Whilst techno-enthusiasts like me see this positively, I think we would be in danger of failing in our duty as educators if we didn’t encourage pupils to adopt a critical stance, asking questions about data security, privacy, identity, ownership and trust. To be digitally literate must include an understanding of managing risks and making the most of opportunities, as well as staying safe.

Alongside the fresh opportunities which new technologies and innovative practice present across and beyond the whole school curriculum, the year has also seen the development and publication of a new National Curriculum programme of study for computing. Thankfully, this is still in draft, with the public consultation closing on 16th April. Naace contributed to the development of the document, although it’s clear not all of our input made it through to the version released by the Secretary of State, and so we as an association will be responding, but I hope that all fellows, members and sponsoring partners will also take time to make their views clear.

The move to a far greater emphasis on computer science on the National Curriculum presents fresh challenges and opportunities for Naace and its members, and this years conference provides many opportunities to consider these together. Naace though is concerned with far more than just one subject on the curriculum: our unifying vision is for the transformation that technology can bring to learning in all subject, and to education in its broadest sense.

The association is in good health. We are fortunate to have Mark Chambers as CEO, bringing great integrity, intelligence and insight to the role, and thus a fitting successor to Bernadette Brooks, who did so much to ensure the voice and vitality of the association. Naace’s board evolves too: I hand over, with some relief, to Lucinda Searle as chair in the sure knowledge that we’ll be in good hands, and Rachel Ager, Richard Allen and Julie Frankland retire from the board, having contributed much to the association, each in a way uniquely their own. Like many, I was thrilled by the high calibre of folks nominated for the board seats they vacate, and whichever way members have voted we know the new board will be able to draw on fresh ideas and wise counsel. The portfolio of services offered by Naace to members and the wider community continues to grow, with many in the sector looking to Naace for the clear and impartial advice that might once have been offered by government agencies: a role we can fulfil more than adequately.

The programme here for our two days together is exciting and packed with much that will sustain and motivate as we return from Leicester. I wish you all a good conference, and look forward to many interesting conversations.