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Teachers angry at laptop restrictions

TES swamped with letters of complaint. Chris Johnston reports

Thousands of teachers feel cheated by the Government's decision to restrict its latest computer subsidy scheme to those teaching key stage 3 maths.

The TES has been swamped with letters from furious teachers, many of whom believed that by training in their own time they would qualify for the pound;500 subsidy. Those not among the lucky 28,000 who received a payment in 2000 were expecting a chance to apply this year.

Teachers have been vitriolic in their attacks on the Department for Education and Employment. Jane Breed, a teacher from Bedfordshire, said the decision was "crushing", while Jim Milne, head of Mosspits junior, Liverpool called it "a slap in the face for teachers who started their Lottery-funded training in good faith, giving up their own time, because they were led to believe that they would be included in this year's scheme".

Richard Hawkins, a teacher-trainer at the University of North London, said:

"Once again the Government has promsed much and delivered little. Why it wants to do this in an election year is beyond me."

About 237,000 teachers have signed up for the ICT training, with 74,000 completing it so far.

NAACE, the computer advisers' association, will press Michael Wills, the learning and technology minister, to allocate more money to the scheme at its next meeting with him.

Steve Bacon, NAACE general secretary, said teachers who had bought a computer with the pound;500 subsidy were now better at using technology in the classroom. "Because the scheme has been successful we want to see more funding given to it in the future," he said.

Louise Neve, a Farnborough primary teacher, who bought a laptop last year, said it had helped her enormously. "The subsidy put the cost of a laptop within my reach."

Mr Wills said this week that the scheme was "part of an ongoing commitment and ... there will be similar opportunities for other teachers in the future".

Computers for Teachers: www.cft.ngfl.gov.uk Leader, 20 Letters, 22

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