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Lack of skill and interest in web

TEACHERS are a long way from making the most of the Internet despite the massive rise in the number of schools connected to the web.

The Government's drive to increase Internet use in schools represents "a huge investment of public funds with an uncertain outcome", according to a discussion document from Alan Jervis and Torben Steeg of Manchester University.

They describe the policy of increasing web use as a "headlong rush in the direction of imposing Internet access in all schools in advance of convincing research".

The Department for Education and Employment is spending more than pound;700 million up to 2002 to provide the hardware, software and training needed for schools to connect to the National Grid for Learning.

The drivefor more Internet use leaves a number of questions unanswered, including the technical capability of staff.

If schools are to overcome these obstacles within existing timetabling and curriculum requirements, high-quality learning and teaching materials need to be available.

"It is likely to be at least another five years before demand for such resources becomes anything like universal," the report says.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "The problem is that the introduction of new hardware tends to run ahead of the availability of new software.

"The reality of what you can do with the Internet tends to be somewhat behind the potential."

Labour's ICT announcement, 4 and 5

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