IT revolution is speeding up

18th January 2008 at 00:00
More Welsh pupils are logging on but unions fear underfunding will keep us behind England.

Wales is catching up with the technological revolution in schools after years of lagging behind, according to the results of a YouGov survey.

But gross underfunding compared with England, the largest ICT spender in the European Union, means schools have a long way to go to get up to speed, critics claimed this week.

The YouGov survey, commissioned by school ICT provider RM, found that almost every pupil from Wales aged 11 to 16 who took part - 1,501 in total and 144 from Wales - now used a computer in school. The survey also discovered that 86 per cent of Welsh pupils prefer doing their homework when logged on, a higher number than previously.

But investment in new technology in Wales is still way behind England. Since 1998, pound;105.4 million has been spent on ICT in our schools. But this is far less in comparative terms than the pound;5 billion pumped into English schools by the Westminster government.

Teaching unions in Wales say the survey results are positive but that ICT government funding must be maintained if improvements are to continue.

There are also fears that pound;700,000 earmarked for a scheme giving free laptops to all 11-year-olds, as part of the government's One Wales document, is simply not enough. It is planned to provide pound;300,000 in 200910 and the rest in 201011 for the scheme, which has been dubbed an election gimmick.

NUT Cymru secretary David Evans said money for computer technology was woefully inadequate in Wales.

Geraint Davies, policy officer for education union the NASUWT Cymru, said the Assembly government needed a clear and properly funded ICT strategy.

"All pupils must be equipped for the modern age," he said.

The YouGov survey further revealed that 61 per cent of Welsh pupils spend between two to 10 hours a week on the internet. Out of all the respondents across the UK, 60 per cent said they used social network websites like Facebook, MySpace and Bebo and nearly a third claimed video games helped them learn.

ICT is set to become a compulsory subject in Wales by 2010.

An Assembly government spokesperson said 2008-9 funding was focused on making the most effective use of the technology already in schools.

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