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AS an example of how to make a mess of a good idea, the Computers for Teachers scheme takes some beating.

There is no doubting teachers' enthusiasm for owning a computer. More than half of those eligible applied for the pound;500 subsidy, despite the fact they had to stump up at least half the cost themselves.

But delays of up to three months in paying the rebate mean that many of the 27,000 teachers who applied have been left with credit card bills they can't pay off, forcing the Government to compensate them further.

Add eligibility restrictions and a wangle over tax and you have a series of self-inflicted wounds of which the England football team would be proud. Like England's participation in Euro 2000, the scheme even ended early - although it was money rather than luck which ran out.

The Government needs to do much more to meet The TES's call for a laptop for every teacher. At the very least, ministers should set a timetable for re-introducing the scheme and make it open to all teachers. And the Welsh Assembly, which has so far resisted calls for a similar scheme in Wales, should follow suit.


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