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Friday, August 27, 1999 Published at 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK


Education

Primary schools getting connected

The government promises all schools will be online by 2002

A trebling of the number of primary schools connected to the internet in the past year has been welcomed by the government.

An annual survey of computers and online access in schools, carried out on behalf of the Department for Education, has shown a rapid increase in the availability of the internet in primary schools.

In last year's survey there were only 17% of primary schools with access to the internet - this has now risen to 62%. In secondary schools the figure has risen from 83% last year to 93% this year.


[ image: The ratio of pupils to computers has improved in the past year]
The ratio of pupils to computers has improved in the past year
"The figures show that the government is well on track to meet its target that all schools, colleges, universities and libraries, and as many community centres as possible, should be online and able to benefit from access to the grid by 2002," said the Education Minister, Jacqui Smith.

The minister said that the increase reflected the "huge investment" of £1.6bn to upgrade information technology in schools and colleges in the next three years.

The survey's findings showed that schools had taken advantage of special rates for connections and had been helped by extra funding for equipment and training, said the minister.

National Grid for Learning

The centrepiece of the government's plans for online education is the National Grid for Learning, which is to be developed at the cost of £700m as a network of teaching materials and information services available through the internet.

The survey also showed improvements in the ratios of pupils to computers, with secondary schools now having an average of eight pupils to each computer - compared with nine last year.

And in primary schools, there are on average now 13 pupils per computer, compared with 18 pupils per computer last year.

But the survey also suggested that teachers were not receiving up to date training. While a large majority had received training in information and communications technology, fewer than half had received training in the past two years.

However, in both primary and secondary schools more than two thirds of teachers reported that they were confident in using computers within the curriculum.



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National Grid for Learning

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