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pound;25m promised for IT training budgets

The Scottish Office is to allocatepound;25 million to train teachers in using computers and the Internet, Brian Wilson, the Education Minister, revealed on Wednesday. But he has confirmed there will be no additional cash to buy hardware.

Mr Wilson, addressing a meeting at Broughton High, Edinburgh, said: "Provision has already been made in Scotland for investment in information and communications technology infrastructure through the money announced in the Budget for the New Deal for Schools. The additional resources will help ensure that our teachers have the confidence and competence to make full use of this infrastructure."

Training cash will flow from the National Lottery's New Opportunities Fund. Training will begin a year from now and ministers want all teachers trained by 2002, the likely date for the next general election.

Mr Wilson said the Scottish Office would shortly be publishing a strategy document on how the national grid for learning will be implemented in Scotland. In the interim, he launched the Scottish Virtual Teachers' Centre, a bank of educational information and classroom resources available via the Internet and national grid.

A CD-Rom package on Reading the Reader was also launched to help primary teachers with reading classes. It is the first Scottish Office multimedia product available on the Internet. "This staff development disc is unique as it features video of real Scottish children learning to read and was filmed over a two-year period. This is just one example of how national grid products will enable the educational establishment to address key issues relating to the development of basic skills, in this case reading," Mr Wilson said.

More than 500 schools already have access to the Internet and many have added their website and e-mail addresses to a Scottish Office database.

Mr Wilson said the national grid, to be launched fully later this year, aimed to connect schools to the Internet, train teachers how use technology effectively and ensure that the system delivered high-quality educational material to teachers and pupils.

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