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Should Boards of Trustees have a minimum ICT standard when employing staff?

Recently a colleague and I noticed a post on a mailing list that was quite adamant that BoT's should no longer employ people who cannot "do ICT" in the classroom. Our conversation then turned to two questions. What ICT skills should schools look for in new staff? And, should there be a minimum ICT skill level beneath which an applicant would not be employed?

I think that creating a checklist of ICT skills is becoming more difficult due to both the increasing rate of change and the rising number of ways that people can interact with technology. A more useful way to approach it would seem to be asking questions that would help to determine if their ICT skills are aligned with personal skills or dispositions. For instance ask them to demonstrate that they use ICT to:

  • create a personal, professional learning network
  • link student data with next steps when planning lessons
  • create powerful learning experiences
  • personalise learning experiences for their students
  • nurture and strengthen links between schools, home and the community

Interestingly enough despite believing strongly that effective use of ICT is a must in our schools, I am not convinced that a BoT should reject an applicant out of hand if those skills are lacking. If I had to choose between someone who is a great teacher but has limited exposure/low skill level with ICT and someone who is a lousy teacher with great ICT skills then I would take the great teacher. This is because I believe it is easier to develop the ICT skills of a great teacher than to develop the teaching skills of a great computer user.


  • Angela Lee

    I agree Warren, I think a great teacher includes someone who is willing to learn, reflect and improve their practice therefore learning new ICT skills when they currently have a limited ability in this area wouldn't be a problem. 

    We're interviewing at the moment and ask questions like 'if you were using *insert ICT tool here* in your classroom what would it look like?' as well as 'what would maths, reading, writing look like in your classroom?' we would expect to here use of ict tools within these questions or at least an awareness of them espeically since we always give our applicants a tour of the school before we interview them.  We're more interested in someone who knows that ICT is another tool in the teaching and learning process than someone who knows everything there is to know about a particular tool. 

  • Suzie Vesper

    I also agree that a great teacher that is open to learning how to use ICT effectively is a much better starting point than someone that can do all the 'whizzy' stuff but who has a poor grasp of how to teach effectively. However, I do think that teachers that fall in to this category need to show an awareness at least that they have room for growth in the implementation of e-learning if this is not their strong point. I have worked with some teachers that are very resistent to exploring ways of using e-learning and I don't think that you would want that type of teacher working with students in a 21st century classroom. I think we are at the point now where teachers can no longer just say, 'ICT isn't really my thing.'  I really like your interview questions Angela!

  • Jo Wilson

    An interesting post Warren – and one that raises the issue that many schools are currently facing. I agree with your sentiments as I believe that ICT skills can be learned and developed, however as Suzie highlights the teacher would need to be a learner …… and in some cases with our late adopters, it is the disposition towards learning that is the issue.

    Gardner (2006) writes about five minds for the future, with these minds being Discipline, Synthesizing, Creative, Respectful and Ethical. I would be looking for a teacher who can develop these ‘minds’ or dispositions with students, in a way that uses a full kete of skills and this kete would most definitely need to include the tools for eLearning.


    Gardner, H. (2006) Five minds for the future. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

e-Learning: Leadership

e-Learning: Leadership

Exploring leadership for change, vision, policy and strategy that integrates ICTs into learning.