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Schools fail to spend pound;20m on computers

UP to pound;20 million which could be spent by schools on software and websites is in danger of being wasted because of confusion over the Government's e-learning credits.

With weeks left until the deadline, estimates from the Department for Education and Skills suggest only pound;10m of the pound;30m available credits have been spent.

Schools were given seven months to use the credits and those not spent by August 31 will be lost.

The lack of interest raises questions about the effectiveness of the scheme to which the Government has committed pound;330m over the next three years.

The DfES has launched a last-minute campaign to remind teachers of the deadline and education software suppliers are clubbing together to pay for advertisements.

Schools received up to pound;3,500 of e-learning credits in the first round and will receive a further pound;1,000 each plus pound;10 per pupil over the next three years.

They can be spent on thousands of products listed on the Government's Curriculum Online website. But a survey by software company RM, reported in TES Online this month, showed that 40 per cent of schools did not realise the credits would be lost if they were not spent by the cut-off date.

Beverley Laing, Curriculum Online projects manager for RM, said: "Part of the confusion for schools is that they thought they could only spend credits on online products, rather than software."

David Bell, chief inspector of schools, was expected to say yesterday that many schools were being held back by outmoded software and hardware.

The DfES said it was confident the pound;30m would be spent.

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