The first generation of 'pupil experts' who have developed skills on home computers are years ahead of their elders.
Her Majesty's Inspectors said pupils, unlike adults, were often completely at ease with the technology. 'A phenomenon emerging in many schools is the 'pupil expert', a student who has acquired considerable expertise through personal interest and time spent at home and at school exploring new aspects of information technology.'
The inspection team found schools were already starting to use the talents of these experts to help other pupils and carry out network management.
The study, which covered 1988-92, highlighted schools using increasingly sophisticated computer equipment and programs to teach subjects more effectively.
'The all-pervading influence of the new technology in their everyday lives has produced a generation of young people assured and relaxed in their approach to information technology,' it said.
'Pupils turn to information technology without reticence or trepidation, unlike many of their elders.'
The report said girls were not as confident as boys with computers, although schools were beginning to redress the balance.