The CADCAM in Schools Initiative was launched last summer and is being managed by the Design and Technology Association. Organisations supporting it include the Department for Education and Employment, the Confederation of British Industry and the Warwick Manufacturing Group at Warwick University.
The software, called ProDesktop, can be loaded on to a school's own computers yet is a powerful package in use in industry, and is normally worth about pound;2,000.
It is supplied free by Parametric Technology Corporation to any secondary schools on condition that a nominated teacher attends a short training course - about three days - run by an accredited trainer.
The training covers not only using the software itself but ways of implementing it within the curriculum. The qualifying teacher is then given a three-month licence to use ProDesktop, during which time they must produce work schemes and set targets for using CADCAM in school. These are checked by the accredited trainer, who then issues a full site licence.
Pupils and teachers are also allowed to copy the software on to their home computers for educational purposes.
A pilot scheme is currently in progress in selected schools to make them training centres for school CADCAM. For more information, contact DATA. Tel: 01789 470007 Web site: www.data.org.uk