The Government has put pound;20 million into the start of a scheme which aims to determine the link between good ICT facilities and improvements in pupil performance. Later this term, clusters of schools in three areas - Barking and Dagenham, Durham and Sandwell - will kick off the four-year "Test Bed" project being run by the Department for Education and Skills.
The aim is to provide the schools with high levels of ICT, including home-school links, and to monitor and evaluate the results. Birmingham University is carrying out the evaluation.
The DfES is looking for evidence in three areas: the link between good ICT implementation and "achievement of wider objectives in standards and school improvement, school collaboration and teacher workload"; best practice in implementing and running schools ICT (and disseminating that information); how using ICT in schools can be developed.
The project is designed to provide "immersive" levels of hardware and software so that the schools and their teachers and pupils can make the maximum possible use of ICT across the entire range of school activities.