Prep schools want free laptops

Government ministers have been described as petty for excluding teachers in private schools from getting free laptops.

The chairman of the Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools, Stuart Thackrah, said: "To me it is slightly perverse that the Government has given a large amount of money to the state system and excluded us from all these initiatives."

John Morris, the association's general secretary, said: "There are various grants that have been made available to the state sector, for example, the New Opportunities Fund, which have not been made available to independent schools."

He said teachers in the private sector should not miss out on initiatives such as laptops and training. "We regard the teaching force as a single force. Teachers do move in and out of the sector."

He admitted that the schools do have good facilities paid for from fee income, but said: "Obviously, the better trained teachers are and the more access they have to professional development and government funding, the better.

"Some schools are not as wealthy as others. The popular impression is that we are all very wealthy but it is certainly not true for prep schools."

Mr Thackrah , who is also head of the pound;11,000-a-year Holmwood House school in Essex, said initiatives such as broadband consortia would benefit from the expertise that private schools would bring.

But Margaret Tulloch, from the Campaign for State Education, said: "I do not think we can expect government to pay for professional development for teachers in private education. That would be reckoned to be part of the training the employer should provide."

A government spokesperson said: "Teachers who work at independent schools are not eligible for the Laptops for Teachers initiative. These conditions are not likely to change."

Information technology will be discussed at the IAPS annual conference next week in Stratford upon Avon along with proposed changes to the inspection regime and science education.

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