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My last few months at IES have been an absolute whirlwind. Following my successful stand-in response for science during the exam season over the last two years, once again, my skills were requested. During the last two years, for one reason or another, I have had to utilise my previous education and training to provide cover for the science curriculum, ensuring that students get the best possible opportunity to complete controlled assessments and exams. This year, that request came again, though this time, to cover GCSE biology.

Knowing the topic very well, I took on the challenge of preparing our students for their two exam papers. Fortunately, the students I have been working with have been very receptive of this amendment, working to the best of their ability time and time again. I am confident that the work they have put in will be showing in their exam results soon.

As the associate ICT teacher, I was saddened to discover that AQA had made changes to it’s courses, which prevent our students from accessing their offering for ICT. They no longer offer an entry level course, opening a new offering for computer science. Looking at the course, I knew an alternative needed to be sourced and through some long hours of research, have located an ideal offering for students here at IES. We are now able to offer OCR Cambridge Nationals in ICT at level 1 and 2. This is a great opportunity for students to develop their knowledge and understanding of computers overall, rather than having to focus on programming and using Office applications, the staple of most ICT courses. Students have gladly taken the challenge to demonstrate knowledge in a wealth of areas and are engaging well in the topics as we complete the tasks.

I love ICT. This is why I teach as much as I can, as often as I can. However, this also is the reason I accepted another role in the school to become the Cyber Security Manager, focused on keeping both staff and students safe. With the imminent change to data protection laws, in the shape of the GDPR, my work in this area has recently seen the most change. I have been working during times when I’m not teaching, working extra hours during evenings and weekends and even been the only one in the building during holidays (it’s spooky!). During this time, we have moved from a solution that had us working remotely in the ‘cloud’, and has moved us to using Microsoft as our core provider.

During the past few months, I have transferred our staff and student data to Microsoft, utilising a platform called SharePoint to host our data. This is firmly protected by a number of safeguarding aspects, which we’ve tied to a new firewall/web filtering and online safeguarding platform called Smoothwall. This is protecting our data from unauthorised users within our site, but also, thanks to Microsoft’s network being one of the most cyber aware on the market, we’re sure to remain as safe as possible. Thanks to GDPR, we have also had a number of policy changes that have required many hours work in creating and fine tuning, in order to safeguard our young people and employees. This has led to us all here at IES have improved knowledge and awareness of the importance of the information we work with on a daily basis. As I write this, I am looking at changing the Windows operating systems on the laptops to the Educational offering (Windows 10 S), designed with students in mind).

Going forward, I am looking already at my next project. As someone who doesn’t like to stay still for too long, I have focused my next thoughts on deploying a ‘Moodle’ system. Quite simply, this is an online learning platform, similar to the platforms used for distance learning (Open University for example), which will initially be used for staff training, but could potentially expand to allowing pupils a safe place to complete homework online, or parents/carers or other the opportunity to complete tailored offerings which may be beneficial to them.

I love working at IES. There are very few places that would allow a sole individual to don so many different hats, and give them the training, and breathing room to excel in each area. Thanks to IES, my confidence in training staff has improved greatly, having to often be called upon for technical support on a wide range of issues. I can’t wait to find out what IES has in store for me next!

Daniel RobertsDaniel Roberts
Cross Street
Learning Support Assistant / Cyber Security