FAR from undermining 3R standards, effective use of computers in Welsh primary schools is helping to improve literacy and numeracy skills, according to an inspectors' report.
But it finds large discrepancies between schools in the quality and breadth of information technology lessons. Standards are unsatisfactory or poor in one in five ks1 classes and in one in four at KS2.
The crucial factor is the quality of whole-school and class planning, say inspectors. Well-planned work not only teaches children how to operate the equipment but also how it can improve work in many subjects. "Time is wasted by pupils copying their written work using a word processor," said chief inspector Susan Lewis.
The report includes an evaluation of the Welsh Office Multi-media and Portables Initiative, launched in 1996. This gave many primary and special schools equipment of similar quality to that found in homes and offices. The equipment was reliable and gave teachers more confidence, but the pocket-book computers proved much less successful, as pupils found them difficult to use.
* The inspectors found only a small proportion of "very good" work in KS3 and 4 music, art and drama. Standards of achievement were higher in the years running up to GCSE than in the early secondary years.
Overall, they found attainment at GCSE was better in drama and music than in art. Girls outperformed boys in all three subjects.
The report, Art, Drama and Music in Key Stages 3 and 4, contains examples of good practice garnered from one-day inspection visits in 1997 and 1998.
Copies of the reports can be obtained from OHMCI, Phase 1, Government Buildings, Ty Glas Road, Llanishen, Cardiff CF4 5FQ