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Britain tops techno-table

BRITAIN continues to lead the world in the provision of information and communications technology in schools, according to a new report. Of the G7 nations, which also include the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, it is the only one to define a student's entitlement to ICT from the age of five to 16.

However, Richard Girling, chief executive of computer company RM, which commissioned the report, warned against complacency, saying continued investment in primary schools would be necessary.

But he predicts that the UK will continue to lead the world in most critical aspects of ICT in education, including delivering innovative curriculum materials through the National Grid for Learning and the widespread use of the Internet as a resource.

The UK is the only G7 nation where all schools are equipped with at least one computer and it has the highest percentage of secondary schools with one or more multimedia computers. However, Canada now leads Britain in the secondary school computer ratio. It has seven students per computer (down from 10 in 1996) compared with 7.7 students (down from 8.5) here.

Britain is also behind Canada and the US in areas such as the number of computers in primary schools and the replacement of old equipment.

While initiatives such as the National Grid for Learning should help Britain to maintain its position, the report says that other G7 nations have similar programmes in place.

Last week, the National Association of Head Teachers said that "scandalous" funding discrepancies between different local authorities were undermining the national grid.

A survey of the first two years of funding suggested that schools in some areas were pound;30,000 better off than their neighbours.

The RM G7 Report 1998 was produced by The Advisory Unit: Computers in Education. See www.rm.comnewsreports or call 01235 826000.

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