pounds 500,000 for school of the future

THE SCHOOL of the future has become science fact at Cranford in west London, writes Ben Russell.

The 1,300-pupil Cranford Community School, a comprehensive near Heathrow airport, has spent more than pounds 500,000 in the past three years on sophisticated computer and communications equipment, making it one of the most technologically advanced schools in Britain.

Cranford (motto, "Where achieving is believing") copes with 25 languages: it caters for hundreds of refugee and immigrant children, many of whom have difficulty with English.

Its response has been to set up a network of 450 multi- lingual computers running more than 200 different multi-media education programs. Banks of computers are available in every department, classrooms have computer- generated displays, and a computerised library, known as the learning resource centre, is open from 8am to 6pm every day. Advanced communications have allowed teachers to set up video links with schools around the world. Teachers and some students have been given computers at home as part of an experiment in completing and marking homework by e-mail.

The school, a specialist language college, also offers lessons to adults side by side with the children.

"Most people who come here from business just choke," said Marian Brooks, the headteacher.

"We have been very fortunate in attracting interest from companies wanting to sponsor our work.

"The results have risen substantially. This year the kids are well above the national average in English and maths, and at the national average in science, which is very good, given our intake.

"The technology does not replace teaching, but it is a great motivator. We have kids in the library from 8am to 6pm and they are really into it."