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Scholars switch off the television

Seven to nine on Monday to Thursday evenings is peak time television.

Perhaps surprisingly, it is also peak time for thousands of Scholar students to learn online.

The urge to tune into the rounds of soaps or endless sport on satellite is strong but Scottish students studying for Highers and Advanced Highers through the Scholar programme are just as likely to be working away at home.

A study reveals a picture of hardworking students linked to the Interactive University, part of Heriot-Watt University's pioneering venture in online supported learning. England is the latest to trial packages that are now used in all secondaries north of the border.

Research for the university shows an acceptance rating of more than 75 per cent by teachers and more than 90 per cent among students. Parents believe the programme, initiated in 1998, supports homework and revision.

News of Scholar's success in Scotland has crept over the border to Cumbria where 2,000 pupils and 200 teachers are involved in a post-16 pilot. It is supported by the Learning and Skills Council.

The programme has now been adapted for five A-level subjects, covering maths, sciences and computer studies. Other authorities in England are expressing interest.

Irene Krechowiecka, e-learning consultant for Cumbria, said: "We have high expectations of the benefits this will bring."

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