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E-mail is where it's @ at

John Howson finds that, in schools, some methods of electronic communication are growing much faster than others

There is no disputing the huge growth in electronic communication over the past few years. Schools have participated in this revolution alongside the rest of society.

Indeed, the Government has actively encouraged schools to become involved.

Each year the Department for Education and Employment has monitored the progress of schools towards meeting the targets set out for the use of information and communications in education up to 2002.

These targets have included connecting all schools to the National Grid for Learning via the Internet; ensuring all serving teachers are competent to teach using technology; phasing out paper-based administration; ensuring DFEE communications are mainly electronic; and making Britain a centre for excellence in digital learning.

It is clear that some means of electronic communication are catching on faster than others.

E-mail is now used by 66 per cent of primary and 79 per cent of secondary schools in administration. It is also used signficantly in teaching.

Of particular interest is a threefold increase in the percentage of special schools using e-mail for teaching and learning purposes between 1998 and 2000.

On the other hand, video-conferencing has still to make much of an impact except in secondary schools where 19 per cent use it in teaching and learning. This statistic does not, of course, tell us how often it is used.

The use of bulletin boards has changed little over the past three years except in special schools where there was an increase in their use in administration between 1999 and 2000.

By the 2000 survey virtually all secondary and special schools were connected to the Internet and 86 per cent of primary schools also had an Internet connection.

Some 62 per cent of secondary schools were estimated as having their own website along with more than a third of primary schools.

One worrying fact was that schools were generally reliant on outside sources for almost half their funding for ICT.

John Howson is managing director of Education Data Surveys. His e-mail is

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