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Wednesday, 21 February, 2001, 13:53 GMT
Comprehensive sells online course
thomas telford school
Thomas Telford: Selling computer expertise
A leading specialist comprehensive school in England is selling online courses to hundreds of other schools at a cost of 3,000.

With up to 820 schools keen to buy, the Thomas Telford school in Shropshire can expect to generate up to 2.5m, which will be used to continue its own educational development and to set up other schools in its image.

Kevin Satchwell
Kevin Satchwell says training teachers to deliver the course effectively is essential
Last year, all those who at the school who sat GCSEs or vocational qualifications achieved at least five good grades or the equivalents, making it the first state secondary to reach a benchmark previously achieved only by independent and grammar schools.

Set up as a city technology college (CTC) in 1991, Thomas Telford has a brief to share successful practice with other schools and it is hoped the expansion of its online information technology course will help to spread some of the secrets of its success.

The school started selling its GNVQ in IT - aimed at the 14-16 age group - in April last year to just 40 schools, calling it Project 40 as a result.

Over 800 schools

But the news soon spread and it was expanded to almost 500 schools, with about 40,000 pupils taking part in September 2000.

The school plans to extend the project to a further 320 schools to begin the course in September 2001.

The Thomas Telford school has a brief to share its successful practice
The school's head teacher, Kevin Satchwell, said the interest in the project was partly due to the success the school had had with vocational courses.

CTCs were established with the express purpose of undertaking research and spreading best practice amongst other schools in the main sector, Mr Satchwell said.

"I believe that, within the near future, many schools will consider entering into commercial educational initiatives online, as it is a simple and effective way of sharing quality learning materials.

Teacher training

"However, I would stress that the essential ingredient in making Project 40 attractive to schools is the ongoing provision of training and the rapid-response online support to help teachers in the delivery of the course," he added.

A delegate from each participating school must attend a five-day training programme - a day a term for five terms.

Through this, members of the project team can ensure that the teachers fully understand the learning materials and can help them with planning.

Thomas Telford undertakes to respond to all queries about the course within 24 hours.

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