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New era of e-portfolio

Every pupil will be able to store school work online in a personal electronic portfolio within two years, under a plan revealed by ministers this week. Each child will get their own web space on which they and their teachers can put coursework, homework and records of their results.

Officials hope the portfolios will provide parents and teachers with a greater insight into pupils' achievement and areas where they need to improve, which could help tackle such tricky problems as the transition from primary to secondary school.

Derek Twigg, education junior minister, admitted the changes would be of greater benefit to middle-class families with computers. But he said he hoped schools would continue to tackle the "digital divide" by encouraging poorer families to use their IT facilities and go on computer courses.

More than a million pupils and 65,000 teachers in London can already store work online through the London Grid for Learning.

The Government's first e-learning strategy pledges to extend similar systems to all schools in England by 2007 and standardise them.

The strategy also suggests schools should ensure they have a website with information for parents, such as details of timetables.

Pupils at Millfields community school in Hackney are among those already storing work online.

Only one in four of the primary's families has computers. However, head Anna Hassan said the system had made it easier for teachers to discuss children's progress with parents face-to-face because they could swiftly load up examples of pupils' work.

Harnessing technology: transforming learning and children's services is on the web at

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