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More schools log on to National Grid

THERE is now one computer for every eight secondary pupils compared with one for 12 only 18 months ago, and one computer for every 23 primary pupils compared with one for 30.

This is some way off the targets set for 2002 - one modern computer for every five secondary pupils and every eight primary pupils. But Peter Peacock, Deputy Children and Education Minister, welcomed an encouraging beginning to the three-year programme to implement the National Grid for Learning. "As additional resources going to schools through the excellence fund really begin to affect the system over the next two years, I expect to see further steady progress towards our targets."

Ministers initially committed pound;62 million to develop the grid in Scotland along with pound;23 million from a lottery-backed scheme to train teachers and school librarians in the use of information and communications technology.

A further pound;38.6 million was announced last March, including finacial incentives to encourage teachers to buy laptops.

Figures from the 1999 survey of information and communications technology, carried out in 700 schools last October, reveal that Internet access is improving. But while 97 per cent of secondaries are online, only 49 per cent of primaries are connected.

This is none the less an advance on the previous survey in May 1998 showing 73 per cent of secondaries and 22 per cent of primaries with Internet access.

Only 6 per cent of primary schools and 8 per cent of secondaries have individual e-mail addresses for all teachers. No primary has all pupils on e-mail and only 5 per cent of secondaries.

Mr Peacock has announced that more than three times the anticipated number of teachers will benefit from support to buy a personal computer. Nearly 5,000 have qualified, allowing them to claim a pound;200 refund. The budget for the first phase of the three-year programme is being increased.

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