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Thursday, January 28, 1999 Published at 07:40 GMT


Education

Grid for Learning 'too limited'

A survey claims councils are failing to bid for money for computers

The National Grid for Learning, which will link every school to an Internet-based information network, is suffering from under-investment in some regions.

A survey by the National Association of Head Teachers, two years after the launch of the Grid for Learning, claims that there is a "scandalous" level of variation in the amounts spent on educational technology across Britain.

For instance, while spending on software and computers in Dudley in the West Midlands is over £35,000 a year per school, in Derbyshire the average spent per school was only £3,300.


[ image: David Hart:
David Hart: "Scandalous" that funds are not being taken up
The NAHT says the great differences in spending are a consequence of local education authorities failing to bid for the government money available for developing the Grid for Learning and connecting schools to the Internet.

Local authorities which were "lagging behind" were "failing schools in the drive to raise standards", said the NAHT's general secretary, David Hart. Such an unwillingness to fund the Grid for Learning was "nothing short of scandalous".

"There is a real danger that a significant number of schools will not receive the cash they need to modernise. Local authorities which block schools' access to adequate funding are doing a grave disservice."

In response, the government has said the Grid for Learning project was still on course.

"This is a five-year programme, not a two-year programme. We do recognise the need for local education authorities to provide high quality bids and we would certainly encourage them to do so," said the Schools Minister, Charles Clarke.

"The government is investing £1bn in improving access to, and teacher training in, information and communications technology.

"The money available up to 2002 will ensure every school will benefit by connections to the National Grid for Learning and every teacher who needs it will have access to the right training.

The NAHT published its survey results showing the local authorities that had spent the most and least as an average allocation to schools:

Top 10 spending authorities per school:

    Dudley £35,714
    Telford and Wrekin £25,057
    Knowsley £25,785
    Barking and Dagenham £19,080
    Birmingham £17,131
    Newcastle upon Tyne £16,532
    Bristol £16,469
    Kensington and Chelsea £15,936
    Brighton and Hove £15,894
    St Helens £15,582

Bottom 10 spending authorities:

    Derbyshire £3,335
    North Lincolnshire £4,118
    North Yorkshire £4,244
    Gloucestershire £4,310
    Wiltshire £4,637
    Northumberland £4,740
    Sandwell £5,515
    Enfield £5,608
    Essex £5,738
    Cornwall £5,779




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National Grid for Learning

British Educational Communications and Technology Agency

National Association of Head Teachers


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