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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 January 2007, 14:44 GMT
Mini-computers 'bring test boost'
Hand-held computers
Hand-held computers are popular with pupils
Boys who under-perform at school could be greatly helped if they used hand-held computers at home and at school, a study suggests.

A pilot scheme in Wolverhampton has reported improved results in maths and science after children were given the devices to use around the clock.

Truancy has fallen, especially among boys, researchers say, and boys are closing the gap with girls in English.

Ministers have set up a taskforce to give all children home internet access.

Pupils at St Jude's Primary School in Wolverhampton are among those taking part in the scheme.

Older children at the school have each been given a personal digital assistant (PDA) for a year for school work.

The devices are used to download information from the internet, to make presentations or to access online programmes on particular topics.

Children can share information by sending it to each other on the wireless devices, and can read e-books from them.


The people behind the scheme - Learning2Go at Wolverhampton Council - say the technology is helping motivate boys in particular.

Dave Whyley, of Learning2Go said: "We've seen a great improvement in the children's confidence. They are enthusiastic, they want to come to school.

"Attendance figures have gone up. We're also seeing boys switched on to reading. They like e-books. One boy read his e-book until his battery went flat on his PDA at night."

Terell, who is in Year Six at St Jude's, told BBC News: "It makes work more fun. I like reading e-books more than normal books".

Pupils using hand-held computers
Boys' performance has improved, researchers say

The researchers compared the results of national tests for 2006 with those of the previous year, when children did not have access to the hand-held computers.

They found that at participating schools, results in maths and science rose at a greater rate than the national average.

Maya, another pupil at St Jude's, says the use of the technology has made learning more exciting.

"It's fun because you don't have to do it with a pencil and paper, and you've got all different sorts of activities on there," she said.

Her mother, Denise, says it has helped her follow her daughter's progress more closely, because all her school work is kept on the PDA.

"She's more motivated now. She comes home, she's on the computer. She likes to look at what she has done in school, she is always going over her schoolwork."

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