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Monday, 20 March, 2000, 11:29 GMT
Cyber school on the horizon
Computer class
Children will be able to learn solely from the internet
Scotland will be home to Britain's first "cyber school" which is to be in operation by August.

Up to 60 pupils at a time will get connected at the wired academy when it opens its doors for the first time in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, as children go back to school.

New-style school for Clackmannanshire
Pupils at the electronic school will be able to log on to lessons at the start of the new term, using the internet and multimedia presentations to learn about history, geography and science.

Initially, it will take pupils from primary and secondary schools in the area for half-day electronic teaching sessions.

But within a year, education chiefs plan to make its resources available to adults and children at home, and in libraries throughout the area, meaning sick children could log on at home to avoid missing lessons.

Youth groups and adult learners will also use the centre in the evenings when it opens, making it a community-wide resource.

Community-based business

Clackmannanshire's director of education and community services, Keir Bloomer, said the computer centre would never replace traditional schools, but would bring the education sector into the electronic age.

Everybody involved is convinced this is a major area of development for education in the not-too-distant future

Keir Bloomer, Clackmannanshire director of education
"One of the important points about it is that it is about making learning a lifelong and community-based business," said Mr Bloomer.

"Everybody involved is convinced that this is a major area of development for education in the not-too-distant future."

Part of the inspiration for the school comes from California, where two schools in San Francisco are entirely internet-based, with pupils meeting teachers, or "facilitators", twice a week to discuss their learning.

Mr Bloomer said bricks and mortar schools will never disappear, but will instead be developed into "wired" buildings.

Education initiatives

"There are two reasons why we have taken that view," he said.

"One has to do with practicality. We are dealing only with certain areas of the curriculum.

"The other is that schools are also about personal and social education, where interaction with others is a very important part of growing up."

Clackmannanshire Council, the smallest in Scotland, has been involved in a number of innovative education initiatives in recent times.

A system of teaching children to read concentrating on the use of phonics - word sounds - produced astounding results, with children progressing years beyond the average performance rate.

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See also:

19 Dec 99 | Education
Call to speed up pupils' net use
17 Aug 99 | Scotland
Scotland grasps Internet thistle
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