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Cash for all as bid war bites the dust

New rules mean that standards fund grants will reach all local authorities. Chris Johnston reports.

All local authorities will share in pound;155 million for National Grid for Learning (NGFL)projects in 2000-2001, part of the pound;205 million total allocated from the standards Fund for the period.

The Government has abandoned a bidding process for most of the funding in an attempt to ensure the more proactive authorities do not take the lion's share.

Allocations will depend on the number of pupils and schools, as well as a number of criteria, including whether authorities have an ICT development plan for its schools. Plans are expected to link all schools to the NGFL by 2002 and must build on school development plans for the use of ICT in the curriculum and teachers' professional development.

A further pound;50 million in matched funding is available to authorities that want to be involved with regional broadband projects (using high-speed networks). Proposals must link with schools, colleges, universities, libraries and other institutions, as well as the New Opportunities Fund ICT training for teachers, and include plans to develop or buy learning materials that exploit the speed boost that broadband brings.

If one of the approved managed services suppliers is not used, the consortia will have to prove that other suppliers offer better value for money.

The progress being made towards meeting NGFL goals will be assessed through various methods, including an evaluation by the Office for Standards in Education and a study of the impact of ICT on pupil performance. Local authorities must submit their bids by November 17.

Meanwhile, a scheme to provide a subsidy to teachers to help them buy computers was expected to be officially launched after TES Online went to press.

Funding for the pound;20 million scheme was announced in the Budget in March, along with pound;15 million to provide cheap recycled computers for learners and low-income families. Details of the scheme will be published in the news pages of The TES and the next edition of Online.

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