Computer have-nots need more support

Wales cannot be a world-beater in ICT until more pupils have access to home computers, a report says.

Unions this week backed the Schools ICT Working Group, which said pupils from low-income families without PCs would be disadvantaged as more teachers log on in lessons.

ICT becomes compulsory in Wales for all post-14 pupils from September 2008.

But a task-force commissioned by the Assembly government to devise an ICT strategy for 3 to 19-year-olds says the divide between the haves and have-nots must be addressed.

Its interim report is based on data gathered since May 2006. The Assembly government has already put pound;70 million into ICT in schools since 1998. But it has been reported that Wales is "stuck in the slow lane"

technologically. Home access to PCs and the internet are said to fall well below Scotland and England.

But pupilcomputer ratios in Wales (about 7:1) have been better than in England since 2003. Dr Heledd Hayes, education officer at the National Union of Teachers Cymru, said the union is aware of the gap.

She said: "We want to see our schools properly equipped and our teachers properly equipped."

Geraint Davies, spokesman for the NASUWT Cymru, said more equality of access was needed to raise ICT standards.

The report says ICT should be used "effectively in teaching and learning in every classroom" and calls for teachers to use more ICT in tracking pupil progress and target-setting. It says management teams should set up an ICT scheme of work that covers all aspects of the programme of study.

"ICT should help schools to do the same things better, but it should also enable them to do new things," it concluded.

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