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PC subsidy scheme fails to woo teachers

The second phase of the computer subsidy scheme is understood to have been significantly under-subscribed, with as few as 6,000 applications according to one source.

The Department for Education and Employment hoped as many as 17,000 of the 25,000 key stage 3 maths teachers eligible for the scheme would register by the May 4 deadline. Teachers may have been put off by the administrative problems of the first phase last year.

The low take-up will anger the thousands of teachers who wanted to apply for the pound;500 subsidy but were ineligible to do so.

The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency is believed to be considering whether to re-open the scheme to all teachers, choosing another specific group or allocating the subsidy to schools.

Another phase, benefiting between 11,000 and 12,000 teachers, is expectd this financial year.

As many as 70,000 teachers will get a subsidy over the next three years with the pound;50 million funding announced recently by learning and technology minister Michael Wills. He has asked teachers for their views on how the scheme should be run and submissions can be made on NAACE welcomed the extension. "Teachers must have personal access to ICT facilities if they are to make effective use of the technology and integrate ICT into their teaching," said Steve Bacon, NAACE general secretary.

Meanwhile, the Isle of Man has given laptops to all of its 750 teachers (p12), while Northern Ireland is spending pound;13.2 million to give another 6,000 laptops to its schools. It brings to 11,800 the number of portable computers issued since 1999 - about one per two teachers.

Chris Johnston

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