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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 12:02 GMT
Computer use in schools rises
computer room
Practically all schools have some form of internet connection
Teachers are taking on board the information technology challenge, with the number of computers in state schools increasing by 24% over the past year, research suggests.

Education suppliers said there was an average of 34 computers in each primary, secondary and special needs school in 2001 - up from 27 in 2000.

The growth is expected to continue well into 2002, with 70% of the 2,000 schools surveyed across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland planning to buy more computers - 280,000 in total.

The study also discovered a dramatic rise in the number of laptops in schools - the number owning at least one laptop rose from 62% in 2000 to 87% in 2001.

Teachers grow in confidence

The study - by the British Educational Suppliers Association (Besa) - also noted an improvement in the number of teachers considered competent and proficient in the use of information and communication technology (ICT).

Last year, less than half - 47% - felt confident using new technology in the curriculum, but the figure now stands at 60%.

Staff training in ICT is continuing, with 84% receiving training in 2001 - up from 78% in 2000. But few schools required no training at all.

Computer 'labs'

The research uncovered a significant swing, especially in the primary sector, to locate computers out of the classroom and into computer "labs".

In total, 56% had made a conscious decision to move computers into a separate designated area.

Only special schools were noted to keep the majority of their machines in the immediate teaching environment.

screen pad
Teachers are feeling more confident with ICT
The study said this could have consequences for the wider use of computers in the curriculum.

"This new statistic must bring into question the hope that computers will 'pervade every lesson' when timetabling restrictions are taken into account," the report said.

"This new way of managing teaching and learning has been shown to favour the teaching of discrete ICT rather than a cross-curricular focus.

"It must also narrow the access to an online solution, rather than extend it," the Besa report suggested.

Director general of Besa Dominic Savage said: "It is clear that teachers have moved forward ICT in schools over the past year with over 60% feeling confident and competent".

"However, the figures in the Besa survey suggest that we must not presume that everything is going to be carried out online at this time and this must influence government policy concerning the curriculum online initiative."

See also:

04 Nov 00 | Education
Schools' 21m internet bill
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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