The first thing that’s important about pre-schools from a governance perspective is that they aren’t governed by the Department of Education. Rather, their oversight is from the Department of Community Services. This has a number of impacts. For example, in some instances, the requirements to retain data extend beyond 20 years. That isn’t a typo.
Secondly, there is a completely different level of oversight, which covers almost every facet of running a pre-school, from the number and mix of teachers, the state of the facilities, the maintenance of policies and procedures.
Almost every facet.
There is practically no published or authoritative guidance on what can or should be made available to three and four year olds in the classroom setting. There is no guidance on online curriculum, access to internet, indications of appropriate duration. It’s likely that it’s purely oversight, and yet another example of technology moving faster than our ability to keep up with it.
Community preschools often run on a closely controlled budget, staffed by dedicated teachers invested in their role and the kids in their care. I’ve seen that the maintenance of policies and procedures for all the other factors that need to be controlled in a pre-school is a never-ending and almost full time role. To respond, we’re developing our own policy, which will cover:
- Use policies for staff and students (similar to the corporate model)
- Installation of software
- Security principles
- Saving and retention of data
In the classrooms, our pre-school runs a timer system and strict supervision. Whilst the teachers machines have network and internet access, this is primarily to store files, or to enable installation of updated definitions and software. Access to the internet for the kids machines is restricted. Each of the machines is password protected. On each of the machines, the home page is set to google.com.au, and Safe Search is locked on. In a world of automated and outsourced responsibility, our teachers respond with one-on-one supervision while the machines are in use. I haven’t dived into the office yet – there are systems in place there for now, and once we have the hardware bedded down we’ll look at how we can modernise in there.
Are there other areas that we should be incorporating into a computer usage policy for a school? I know that there is an army of people and mountain of information for schools, but for pre-schools, we appear to be flying on our own. I’d welcome the suggestion of precedent if it exists.
(Cross-posted to www.autechheads.com)