Tony Parkin explores a new model for curriculum development
Switched on ICT logoTake a group of passionate, Twittering primary educators seeking ways of improving a tired curriculum, a local authority ICT school improvement team and schools they support, and add in a commercial educational publisher and an exciting new model for curriculum development can emerge.

Teachers will soon be able to check out the product of this collaboration between educators in the London Borough of Havering and publisher Rising Stars with the publication, in March, of Switched On ICT.

By Daniel McKeown
Learners who find themselves all at sea with digital information in today’s high-tech world could be thrown a line thanks to two new competitions for technology developers launched by JISC Techdis, the UK’s leading advisory service on technology and inclusion.

The first, titled "Plain Sailing", focuses on enabling users to produce and access navigable and personalisable digital information independently. The second, "Making Waves", aims to develop technologies enabling learners with communication difficulties to function effectively and independently across the range of learning and living situations.

Sally McKeown checks out the new Youth Motivational Map service
Youth Motivational Map logo“Spooky!” said Anna, a Year 9 pupil at  Avonbourne School for Girls in Bournemouth when she saw her profile results. She had just tried the Youth Motivational Map, a new product from Smart Development Solutions, and found it uncannily accurate.

The 'Map' is an online self-perception inventory which asks lots of questions and then analyses what drives the individual. It is similar in style to Belbin’s Team Role Profile, a well-known management tool which helps companies improve performance by getting the right combination of skills in a group.

Entrepreneur Alun Baker believes social networking is crucial for careers advice
WYGU logoFigures just published show that graduates are twice as likely to be jobless as other sectors of the populations. Graduate unemployment has doubled in the recession to its highest level for more than a decade and, given the spending review cuts, is unlikely to improve.

Also, 200,000 young people with the right grades failed to get into university this year. How will they make the right choices about what to do next? And how do school pupils get the best advice on their next steps?

Competition is the key to a brilliant new government-funded languages website, reports Valerie McIntyre
As a hard-pressed head of department for modern languages I’m always on the hunt for new ways of engaging pupils. I’m impressed with MYLO, a new DfE-sponsored website which provides language learning challenges in French, German, Spanish and Mandarin. It’s a highly motivating, fresh take on just the sort of areas of interest that our pupils like – and it’s free!

The site is designed for key stages three and four and we have used it with Years 7, 8 and 9 so far. Our pupils love the challenges. One colleague even reported excitedly that a boy who hadn’t picked up a pen without being nagged since the beginning of the year was suddenly working at MYLO in his own time! The secret is competition.