Teachers must sing for their laptops

Schools can expect some sort of return from teachers who are given a portable computer under the new pound;100 million laptops scheme.

Guidance commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills (DFES) from NAACE, the National Association of Advisers for Computers in Education, and the National College for School Leadership, states: "We would expect a teacher to understand that there were some expectations being placed upon them."

This could mean helping to train other teachers or sharing ideas and ways of working that have resulted from having personal access to technology. However, schools cannot force teachers to use the laptops in class.

As in the DFES guidance to LEAs, schools are again warned that they must have a clear policy for deciding which staff members are issued with a laptop. "There will be potential for much discontent if teachers believe that computers have been distributed without a clear rationale," the guidance states.

Unlike the two previous computer schemes run by the Govermnent, teachers do not have to pay anything themselves or register. The laptops remain the property of the school and must be returned when a teacher leaves his or her job.

All laptops have fast processors, at least 256Mb of memory, a 20Gb hard drive, CD or DVD drive, modem and Windows 2000 or later as well as office and virus protection software and a carry case.

Suppliers must provide a warranty and telephone helpline for three years. An internet access service and a demonstration service are optional extras. The maximum price is pound;1,100 per laptop. The DPES's list of agreed suppliers is at: http:lft.ngfl.gov.ukcatalogue

George Cole and Chris Johnston

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