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Schools IT network for 'knowledge-creating' capital

Edinburgh is to spend Pounds 2.5 million this year and upwards of Pounds 6 million over the next three years in equipping all schools and education buildings with the latest information technology, creating local, national and international networks.

Cushioned by a one-off windfall from the sale of the Gyle shopping centre, which is bringing in around Pounds 120 million, Edinburgh aims to become "one of the leading knowledge-creating cities".

Elizabeth Maginnis, the city's education convener, said a budget of Pounds 2.3 million had been approved and Pounds 180,000 would come from the revenue budget. Despite financial pressures, the council had acted because IT "is an essential requirement for a modern education".

The council plans to link schools to a corporate wide area network (WAN) and the Internet to allow teachers access to curricular materials. Messages will be transmitted through e-mail. The plans also include cabling up schools internally. Headteachers say their priorities are a reliable and comprehensive electronic mail system and access to the Internet.

Community education centres will join the network while a "cyber cafe" will be piloted as a youth project. Another three are planned.

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