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Survey shows confidence drop

The British Educational Suppliers Association's annual report into ICT in schools shows that confidence in ICT usage has dropped, backing up the Government's own statistics.

In 2003, 74.8 per cent of primary teachers were happy with their understanding of ICT. This fell to 61.9 per cent in 2004. However, confidence is up fractionally at secondary schools - from 60.7 to 61.9 per cent.

"A lot of problems seem to be arising from teachers trying to catch up because they are now in the position of knowing there's more that they don't know," said Besa director Ray Barker. "This is actually great news for education.

"What is holding people back is training. Teachers want to use ICT, but don't get enough time to experiment with software and hardware to see how they can make it work in their classrooms."

Another fly in the ointment is the proliferation of computer labs: there's still at least one in every primary school and five in every secondary.

"These are restricting teachers' usage of ICT as they can't embed ICT in teaching if they have to book their time in the computer suite in advance," said Barker. "Labs are set up to teach computer skills, not to help computers be used in education."

Not such good news for the Government was the reception afforded to whiteboards, with 62 per cent of primaries claiming they are of great importance, compared with only 42 per cent of secondaries. The technology seen as having the most impact in both primaries and secondaries was desktoplaptop computers, securing 41 per cent and 50 per cent of responses respectively - with IWB achieving 37 per cent and 26 per cent respectively.

The number of ineffective computers for teaching the curriculum has risen from 416,000 in 2003 to 433,000 in 2004. This raises the issue of funding.

For the past two years, primary schools have been ahead of secondary in computer use in class. This year, 46 per cent of primary lessons used ICT, compared with 32 per cent in secondary. "Secondary is too restricted by the curriculum," said Ray Barker.

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