BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: Events: Budget 99: NEWS  
News Front Page
N Ireland
UK Politics
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
NEWS Thursday, 11 March, 1999, 08:27 GMT
Teachers to take computers home
Teacher and computer
Schools are preparing pupils for the 'information age'
Teachers will be encouraged to take computers home as part of the government's campaign to introduce information technology to schools.

Chancellor Gordon Brown in his Budget speech has announced the allocation of 20m to allow teachers to have greater access to computers at home - in the form of subsidised loans for equipment or laptops which can be borrowed.

There have also been announcements promising 2,000 for every school to buy books and extra grants specifically targeted at schools in the inner-cities.

The speech was welcomed by the largest teachers' union, the National Union of Teachers, as providing "the tools for the job". A spokeswoman said that the funds for technology and books would help make up the shortfall of past years and would be "greatly welcomed", particularly in primary schools.

Laptop computer
Teachers are more confident with computers if they can use them at home
The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers also welcomed the announcements, saying that the "library lending" of computers was "particularly imaginative".

The lending of computers to teachers, intended to help them to learn more about using educational software and the Internet, is less than the pre-Budget predictions that all teachers would receive their own laptop computer to use at home - a measure that would have cost an estimated 400m.

The initiative is part of a 1.7bn programme to widen access to new technology, which will include the creation of a national network of 'computer learning centres' in schools, colleges, libraries and Internet cafes.

Child reading
The NUT says that primary schools will particularly welcome the extra funds for books
Equipping the country for "the information age" would include connecting 32,000 schools to the Internet and training 370,000 teachers in using computers, the chancellor said.

Inner-city schools will receive an extra 100m to upgrade technology, the chancellor announced.

As well as the measures for new technology, Chancellor Brown also provided an extra boost for old technology, in the form of 2,000 for every school to spend on books - promising 10 million new books at a cost of 60m.

Adult education

For adult education, the chancellor promised 150 for a million adults to set up 'Individual Learning Accounts', which he said would give people "the power to plan and prepare for their own careers".

There would also be tax incentives for adults to return to education and for employers to support workers wanting to acquire new skills.

The proposal to lend computers to teachers follows a pilot scheme run by the National Council for Educational Technology (now the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency), which found that access to computers at home greatly improved teachers' understanding of information technology.

The government has made the introduction of a National Grid for Learning one of its priorities for education, including plans to connect every school to the Internet and to provide a range of online educational resources.

Last year the Prime Minister announced 700m to provide schools with modern computer equipment as part of the development of the Grid for Learning.

Developing skills

Schools are likely to welcome the proposals, although teachers will want to ensure that the equipment they receive is up to date.

Malcolm Chandler, a teacher at a specialist technology school, the Warwick School in Redhill, Surrey, says that being able to take computers home will help teachers to develop skills.

"In my school we have 150 computers, all on the Internet, and we are doing almost everything using word processing. That's very difficult if teachers haven't got a computer at home."

However Mr Chandler noted that there would always be those who would say the money could be better spent on other things.

For higher education, Chancellor Brown also announced an extra 100m for the encouragement of scientific research in universities.

Your Views - Have your say on the Budget

See also:

06 Nov 98 | Features
06 Nov 98 | Education
06 Nov 98 | Education
18 Dec 98 | Education
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more NEWS stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more NEWS stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
UK Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |