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Internet cafe for all ages

This year our school has become involved in CountIT, an e-learning project to raise numeracy throughout the school. Although there are many aspects of the project, the focal one is our internet cafe. It is a facility for parents, governors, friends of the school and the wider community.

Pupils from Year 5 (Primary 6) form the CountIT project group and act as facilitators. They have received in-house training in spreadsheets and search engines and how to buy and make bookings online. They have also learnt the importance of listening and carrying out customers' requests.

In previous years, pupils have taken part in the Ulster Bank's Young Enterprise Scheme and, by embarking on this project, they have an opportunity to put theory into practice.

The school granted the project group a loan to cover set-up costs. This has now been repaid and the business is making a healthy profit.

The internet cafe is open on Friday mornings between break and lunchtime.

Tables and chairs are set up in an area outside the ICT suite. Members of the PTA help serve coffee and pupils are responsible for the till.

After coffee and a chat, customers move into the ICT suite and with the help of the facilitators are able to shop online or search for information.

For many, this is the first time they have used a computer, but this is not a problem, and neither is age - our oldest customer was 84.

A comment by a member of the project group says it all: "What a fun way to learn!"

Gillian Stevenson ICT co-ordinator, Comber Primary School, Co Down, Northern Ireland

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