Countdown from promise to delivery

8th June 2001 at 01:00
The Government's Computers for Teachers scheme has had a chequered history since it was first announced

April 1998: Education secretary David Blunkett announces plans to spend pound;23 million on personal laptops for teachers following a successful pound;5m pilot.

March 1999: Chancellor Gordon Brown announces a subsidised Computers for Teachers scheme in his Budget.

January 2000: TES launches A Laptop For Every Teacher campaign. It wants a commitment to give every teacher a laptop, arguing that it would cost around pound;300m.

Government launches pound;20m Computers for Teachers scheme, giving a taxable subsidy of up to pound;500 for teachers buying a machine from one of 19 approved suppliers. It is intended to run until 2002. The Government later agrees to pay the tax itself. In Scotland, three times as many teachers as expected apply for a pound;200 rebate on buying a computer - and all get approved. In Wales, every secondary head and around 165 primary heads get a laptop.

February 2000: pound;3m allocated by the Government to buy laptops for heads in small primary and special schools in England.

March 2000: More than 22,000 teachers ask about a subsidy under the Computers for Teachers scheme - a much faster take-up than envisaged.

April 2000: Computers for Teachers scheme frozen after just four months. The TES estimates that up topound;8.4m of the pound;20m budget has been spent. It has benefited one in 20 full-time teachers - around 28,000 professionals.

June 2000: The TES is inundated with complaints from teachers who have still not received their Computers for Teachers rebate.

January 2001: New Computers for Teachers scheme launched. Only key stage 3 maths teachers are eligible. "Judging by The TES postbag, even former Chief Inspector Chris Woodhead never managed to demoralise so many in one fell swoop," says The TES leader. The Government says the decision recognises "the importance of maths teachers and the need to support them in making the subject more attractive for young people." Another 17,000 teachers get a subsidy in this phase of the scheme.

March 2001: Technology minister Michael Wills tells The TES that the Government will inject another pound;50m into Computers for Teachers, to be spent over the next three years. Another 70,000 teachers will get rebates of up to pound;500, but Mr Wills is inviting suggestions from the profession as to how the new cash should be divided up. He says: "I'm sorry that people have been disappointed and angry in the past. But this is money that is going to teachers for something which I hope they will find useful in their profession. It's not something that the Government is offering to any other profession."

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