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Tameside in the driving seat for computing skill

Primary pupils in Tameside will soon be among the first to be licensed to drive - computers, that is. The qualification being introduced to the 79 primaries in the Greater Manchester borough from June is similar to the European Computer Driving Licence but less test-based.

To obtain the Tameside key stage 2 ICT driving licence, pupils must reach national curriculum level 4 standard in at least six areas such as databases, multimedia and modelling. Pupils must also pass an online test in basic ICT skills.

Norman Crawford, borough ICT adviser, said the scheme would motivate pupils and help to raise standards by giving teachers a better idea of children's capabilities.

The primary ICT driving licence is expected to be made available nationwide and it may be endorsed by the British Computer Society.l Pupils at De Rietakker primary in Utrecht, the Netherlands, are using a customised version o an e-learning service supplied by US firm Docent. The online learning company is making its first move into the schools sector by supplying the primary with an e-learning infrastructure in conjunction with Dutch phone company KPN. The scheme allows teachers to develop their own materials for students.

If this pilot is successful, the e-learning platform should be made available free to the 3.5 million Dutch primary pupils within two years.

Dave Mandelkern, Docent chief technology officer, said the service aimed to change what teachers do in class: "We don't want it to be an electronic babysitter," he said.

Docent claimed that the platform's picture icons made it easy for young pupils to use and that it could be adapted as necessary. The technology may be made available to British schools in the future.

Tameside www.tameside.gov.ukDocent www.docent.com

Chris Johnston

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