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Saturday, 4 November, 2000, 00:52 GMT
Schools' 21m internet bill
teacher and pupils using PC
Only a half of all teachers are confident users
UK schools are spending 21m a year on the internet, it has been revealed.

But a report by educational suppliers says that despite millions of pounds' worth of training, half the country's teachers do not feel confident using new technology in the curriculum.

Net connectivity
26,140 schools online (89.6%)
average 16.3 net computers
52% give access to all pupils
39% some access
9% no access
42% have a website
It says the UK is far ahead of any other country in getting information and communication technology (ICT) into schools.

But it suggests the pace of change might be too fast for the teaching profession to keep up with, and there is a need to take stock and reconsider the way forward.

The report, from the British Educational Suppliers Association, says the growth in schools' internet connectivity is significant: 87.8% of primary schools are connected, 98.6% of secondary schools and 88.9% of special schools.

screen pad
Maths uses ICT relatively well
By next year, in line with government targets, the expectation is that every school will be connected - with an average of 23 internet-enabled computers per school.

Staff internet access has doubled since last year and more pupils than ever are using the internet on a daily basis: 47% of schools, of which 90% supervise that access.

The number of schools using phone lines for net connectivity is going down, with 69% using faster ISDN connections and more than one in 10 secondary schools now having permanent leased lines.

"One thing that really shows the seriousness with which we are moving into the digital age is that schools now realise they need more than an ordinary phone line," said the association's director general, Dominic Savage.

Installed computers
Total: 851,000
770,000 PCs
81,400 Macs
74.5% Pentium I or above
86% run Windows 95/98/NT/2000
Its figures are based on a sample of 1,703 primary, secondary and special schools, representative of 29,165 state sector schools in the UK.

For the first time, it has put a figure on spending on the internet in UK schools: 21m.

"The challenge now is to assess its real value to teaching and learning," the report says.

It shows there has been only a small increase in confidence and competence among teachers when it comes to dealing with ICT in the classroom.

Confidence rating

A recent statistical report from the Department for Education said more than two thirds of teachers felt confident to use ICT in the curriculum. In most schools the figure had fallen slightly from 1999.

But school ICT co-ordinators, who completed the questionnaires for the association's annual survey, suggest that on average only 47% of teachers are competent or confident.

The subjects making most effective use of the equipment are ICT itself, English, maths and history.

Mr Savage said: "The rate of change which the government is currently trying to effect is dramatic.

"There are many who would argue that now we have a reasonable infrastructure, we need to consolidate in schools and look at how this change can be managed.

"Schools and teachers need to develop in ICT at a rate with which they are comfortable."

The Learning and Technology Minister, Michael Wills, said: "This survey demonstrates the dramatic impact that the record levels of funding for computers and the internet in the classroom is having in our schools."

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See also:

02 Nov 00 | Education
Lessons from computer use at home
06 Sep 00 | Education
Schools 'on track' for online target
21 Sep 00 | Education
City-wide school computers scheme
10 May 00 | Education
Cash to sustain school technology
06 May 00 | Education
Teachers' computer concerns
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