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All wired up

CLASS sizes hit the headlines this week with the publication of the September 2000 School Census. That's not surprising perhaps, but with all the attention focused on the political hot potato, one success story has been totally overlooked - the huge increase in computer access in schools (page seven).

Computer to pupil ratios have shot up in the year since October 1999, with one machine now to every seven secondary pupils, one to five in special schools and one to 18 in primaries. Nearly all Scottish secondary schools are shown to have access to the Internet, and well over half of primary and special schools. Even as they appear these figures are out of date, as local authorities install their own intranets.

But the real story is what this means in terms of education. Now that the nuts and bolts are in place what is needed is quality content. Hence the importance of Deputy Education Minister Nicol Stephen's announcement (page five) that the Scottish Executive is investing pound;700,000 in Heriot-Watt University's Scholar programme which is giving thousands of Scottish pupils online access to new Higher and Advanced Higher programmes.

Class sizes remain a problem. But whether you work in a 29-pupil school in the Highlands, or cannot justify a Latin post in the central belt, the National Grid is now providing the links that can help.

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