Primary classes to get extra £400m for computers

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The Independent Online

A further £400m is to be given to schools for extra computer technology, the Government will announce today, when it will publish research showing that the use of technology in the classroom hasencouraged an important improvement in children's test results.

A further £400m is to be given to schools for extra computer technology, the Government will announce today, when it will publish research showing that the use of technology in the classroom hasencouraged an important improvement in children's test results.

Primary schools with a high standard of computer instruction are twice as likely to produce results above national standard as other schools, the research will show.

The Government found standards rise substantially when a teacher has been trained to integrate information technology in the curriculum. The rise in standards will come as a comfort to ministers, who have faced accusations that their £1bn programme to introduce the internet into schools would have little impact on raising standards. Educationists have claimed that traditional teaching methods could not besupplemented by computer programmes.

But Michael Wills, an Education minister, will publish data showing that primary school children who use computers in the classroom have higher results than those with poor IT facilities. Boys who have difficulties concentrating in class are particularly helped by computers because that engages their attention, the research shows.

The use of computers has an equally beneficial impact on children from well-resourced schools in middle-class areas and inner-city schools with a high proportion of children from low-income homes.

Ministers believe the interactive form of teaching offered by computers will help engage students who have not thrived in the traditional classroom.

The £400m will be used to buy more technology for primary and secondary schools to give every classroom several computers with internet access.

The extra cash, allocated from funds earmarked by the Chancellor last year for education, will ensure that by 2004 there will be one computer to every eight pupils in primary schools and one for every five pupils in secondary schools. The Government's National Grid for Learning will ensure that every classroom is connected to the internet by next year. The number of computers in primary schools has risen from one for every 19 pupils in 1996 to one for every 13 in the year 2000.

Teachers are also being shown how to use and teach computer skills as part of the teacher training curriculum and some are being allocated laptops.

"The good use of computers are a vital part of raising standards in the 21st-century classroom," said a senior govern- ment source. "Schools with very good information and communications technology and very good teaching are twice as likely to be above national standards as schools with good resources where such teaching is poor."

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