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Net take-up in schools on rise

The Government claims the latest batch of DFEE statistics shows it's on course for having all schools on the Net by 2002.

More than 20,000 schools - 98 per cent of secondaries and 86 per cent of primaries - are now connected to the Internet, according to new figures released by the Department for Education and Employment (DFEE).

With 88 per cent of schools now linked to the Net, learning and technology minister Michael Wills said that the Government is well on the way to ensuring every school has a connection by 2002.

However, there continues to be no analysis of the nature of schools' Internet links or how many classrooms have one. Critics point out that a single modem in a head's office could see a school being counted as "connected", even though pupils would not be able to benefit from it.

National Grid for Learning funding means the ratio of pupils to computers is still falling. In secondary schools there are now 7.9 pupils per PC, compared to 8.4 last year. In primaries there are 12.6 pupils fo each computer, down from 13.4.

Average spending on information and communications technology (ICT) for teaching and learning in primaries was pound;6,800 per school, or pound;30 per pupil - compared to last year's figures of pound;5,700 and pound;27. In secondaries, the average spend was pound;41,800 (up from pound;38,200) or pound;47 per pupil, a pound;2 increase.

More primary teachers continue to say that they feel confident about using ICT in the curriculum than their secondary colleagues - 67.1 per cent versus 65.3 per cent. The figures for both groups have declined slightly since last year, by 0.7 per cent for primary teachers and 0.8 per cent for those in secondaries.

For special schools the figures are much higher, with 92 per cent connected to the Net and 73.4 per cent of teachers confident about using ICT.

The DFEE also revealed that 36 per cent of teachers have signed up for ICT training under the pound;230 million New Opportunities Fund scheme. Full statistics will be published later this month in a statistical bulletin.

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