Training for every teacher in the country in information and communications technology (ICT) will begin in April, but heads anxious to make use of the money available should understand that those in schools with good computer equipment will be the first to get it.
The Government has allocated Pounds 230 million (equivalent to Pounds 500 per teacher) of National Lottery money in the New Opportunities Fund to ensure classrooms are staffed by people who know how to use computers and the associated technology. The programme of training is expected to last for three years, but it might take longer.
The lottery wants schools to be able to choose from a number of different companies offering training to get what best suits their needs. Several consortia are applying to do the job, such as one involving Microsoft, ICL, Pearson Publishing, Granada Learning and Exeter University.
The money will take time to filter down to schools. Government guidance states: "The readiness of a school to receive training will be an important criteria in considering applications and that readiness is likely to reflect the quality of its ICT development plan and whether it has, or is scheduled to, receive the necessary infrastructure."
At a conference of the National Association of Advisers for Computers in Education, Gillian Langford of the Teacher Training Agency said the purpose of the initiative was to raise teachers' confidence and competence with ICT to the same level as that of their newly qualified counterparts.
She stressed that the training was about improving the quality of learning, and not ICT itself. The aim is to show teachers when and when not to use ICT in the classroom to achieve specific outcomes.
Schools will be able to decide which teachers should get the training, the value of which will be determined by a base sum allocated to each school plus and amount for the number of full-time equivalent teachers. The Teacher Training Agency is not specifying what form the training should take, but much will be through distance learning.
Programme for ICT training March 98 Government announces Pounds 230 million of lottery money to train the nation's teachers in ICT. Asks training organisations to bid for contracts November 98 Closing date for applications to provide training February 99 Decisions made on consortia. List of approved firms to be circulated to schools.
April 99 Programme begins.
April 2002 Training scheduled to be completed.