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Wednesday, 10 May, 2000, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Cash to sustain school technology
Michael Wills
Michael Wills: "We are fundamentally committed to these technologies"
Schools are to get substantial extra sums of money to continue paying for computer equipment beyond the year 2002.

The government is investing more than 1bn into putting computers and internet connections into England's schools by 2002.

We're confident that more money will be coming into this area in the future

Michael Wills

But many schools are worried about how they are going to afford to maintain and renew the equipment when necessary.

Now the Learning and Technology Minister, Michael Wills, has said that "significant new sums" would be spent on doing just this in the future.

In an interview with BBC News Online's education editor, Gary Eason, webcast live from the Department for Education, Mr Wills said he could not make specific promises, because that was a matter for the Chancellor, Gordon Brown.

But he said: "We're confident that more money will be coming into this area in the future".

'Fundamentally committed'

Mr Wills was answering queries from BBC News Online users, a number of whom had e-mailed in their concerns about future funding for technology in schools.

He said he recognised their concerns, but said people should judge the government by its actions so far.

"We've put in huge sums of money, unprecedentedly large sums of money at a time when public spending has been kept under a very tight grip," he said.

"The first two years of this government, we had to keep a very tight grip to get rid of the 28bn deficit that we inherited.

"Now we've done that but still also found the money for these technologies.

"Now if we've done it at such a difficult time, I hope people will be reassured that we are fundamentally committed to these technologies.

"And let me reassure everybody that in our planning in the department we do not expect this to be a one-off shot, we recognise that these technologies keep changing."

He said there were issues about how and how often technology in schools should be refreshed and renewed, but said it was "built into all our funding assumptions for years ahead".

The government was also aware that schools needed to be able to invest in software and technical support - factors which were also built into "budgeting ahead".

Industry challenge

  • On Wednesday, Mr Wills issued a challenge to the information technology industry to deliver the best value new technologies to schools, colleges and libraries at reasonable prices.

    Speaking to an audience of educationalists and suppliers at the Royal Society of Arts, he also announced seven new companies approved as one-stop technology shops for schools, colleges and libraries.

    He said an evaluation project was being set up which would fund complete new technology and computing services for up to six schools over three years through the National Grid for Learning (NGFL) managed services.

    The NGFL managed services would also be expanded and improved, to help free teachers from "technical bureaucracy" to spend maximum time in the classroom.

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    06 May 00 | Education
    Teachers' computer concerns
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