The Government has a vision of a National Grid for Learning, yet with only five per cent of primary schools connected to the Internet there is some way to go. We've been looking at some of the companies which will help you take the plunge
A campaign has been launched this year to help schools and pupils make the best use of the Internet and increase good practice in ICT. UKNetYear has cross-party support and is sponsored by business, the public sector and individuals - and your school should have received an invitation to register free of charge. When you do, you will receive a 'How to' guide which explains how you can take your ICT capability from where you are, to wherever you want to go, whether this might be just one computer linked to the Internet to a full network with local community involvement. You will also receive a free training CD-Rom and the UK Net Year Buyers Guide, which has been compiled by BESA to ensure impartiality. UKNetYear plans curriculum events, training through BBC Education and Netdays to demonstrate the benefits of the Internet in education
* For your registration pack contact Janet Barrett or Janet Roger on 01753 868181, fax 01753 604279 or consult the UKNetYear Web site on http:www.uknetyear.org.
A new publication provides a generic look at the whole field. Connecting Schools, Networking People was published last month by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTa, successor to NCET). The book offers a general look at the ICTfield and relates it to the National Grid for Learning. It discusses the importance of choosing the right equipment and developing good practice.
* Connecting Schools, Networking People is available free from DfEEPublications, POBox 5050, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 6ZQ (0845 60 222 60, fax 0845 60 333 60). It is also available on the Virtual Teacher Centre, http:vtc.ngfl.gov.uk
Software publisher Logotron has developed a number of resources to support teachers using the Internet. Of particular interest to the primary staff are Educators' Guide to Webwhacker (MacPCWin, pound;34), a versatile guide with four different sections which shows novices (adult or child!) how to search for information and download web sites; How to create great school web pages (MacPCWin, pound;64) which explains how to set up your own web site to display children's project work and How to create successful internet projects (pound;24) which offers plenty of ways in which children can embark on online projects.
* For further details of these and other Logotron publications contact the company at 124 Cambridge Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 4ZS or ring school sales on 01223 425558.
If you're not sure how to get connected ArgoNet offers an Education Online Service with unlimited online time at local telephone rates and freephone support, unlimited web space for your school's use, a free school domain and unlimited e-mail addresses plus access to ArgoSphere, an education website for children of 3-15 years. Subscriptions to the service start at pound;10 per month if taken for a year.
The company has a range of Internet packs. The Get Connected Pack, for example, which includes an external 33.6K voicefaxdata modem, access software (Windows AcornMac), stereo headset and three months connection to the Education Online Service, costs pound;79.95 (inc VAT and UKcarriage).
* Contact the Argo Interactive Group plc, 7 Dukes Court, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 2FX(freephone 0500 585 586).
Gain confidence and overcome your web-phobia by going on a course. The Consortium has arranged intensive, one-day courses at technology centres across the country. These cover all the basics:Internet requirements, connecting to a service provider, surfing, e-mail and so on, in an off-the-job, hands-on way.
* For further details contact the Training Liaison Officer at The Consortium, Freepost, Hammond Way, Trowbridge, Wiltshire BA14 8YT (01225 771203, fax 01225 775165).
Many schoools have RM Window Boxes and the company has now extended its remit to support the National Grid for Learning. Initially you may like to send for two free publications:The Changing Face of Primary Schools' ICT:Considerations for Schools connecting to the National Grid for Learning and RM Primary ICT Guide:ICT Resources for the Primary Classroom.
* For copies of these, or to discuss your individual ICT requirements, call the RM Sales Information Line on 01235 826868.
Early Learning Direct, PO Box 352, Sudbury Suffolk, CO 10 6SN (0990 352352, fax 01787 881939)
Galt Educational, Culvert Street, Oldham, Lancashire, OL4 2GE (0161 627 5086, fax 0161 627 1543). Ginn amp; Co Educational Publishers, Prebendal House, Parson's Fee, Aylesbury, Bucks HP20 2QY (Customer Services 01296 488411, fax 01296 425487)
Heron Educational Ltd, Carwood House, Carrwood Road, Chesterfield S41 9QB (01246 453354, fax 01246 2608 76).
Hands On, Unit 11, Tannery Rd, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1RF (01732 773399, fax 01732 773390.
Hope Education, Orb Mill, Hudderfield Rd, Oldham, Lancashire OL4 2ST (0161 633 6611, fax 0161 633 3431).
The Folding Box Company, Ridgeway Cross, Malvern, Worcestershire, WR13 5JN (01886 880599, fax 01886 8808 14).