More fish on the Net;Hot data;Briefing;Analysis

8th January 1999 at 00:00
Five years ago only the most IT literate teacher knew what the Internet was; now the jobs in The TES are online and, after a slow start, the National Grid for Learning is taking shape. The rise in both awareness and use of the Internet has been startling, and schools are not surprisingly struggling to come to terms with the implications.

As with other revolutions in technology, teacher training has lagged behind. It is only this year that the money will be available, courtesy of the lottery, to start a massive in-service training exercise.

According to Government figures, more than 80 per cent of primary teachers are using a computer at least twice a week. The comparable figure for secondary teachers is only 36 per cent. Predictably, IT and business studies teachers used computers more than any other secondary teachers, with PE and RE teachers using them the least.

Despite the lack of tax incentives, 50 per cent of primary, 55 per cent of special and 60 per cent of secondary teachers reported having a computer at home. No doubt like many other professionals, many teachers will have learned how to use them from their own children. Nearly 9 per cent of secondary teachers had their own e-mail addresses.

It is encouraging to see that the most frequently-accessed web-sites by pupils, at least when in school, were museum and library sites.

The web has also helped broaden horizons, with around two-thirds of schools able to access sites outside the UK. Half of secondary schools used e-mail as a learning tool, and 11 per cent had even tried video conferencing.

Secondary schools spend around pound;118 million using information and communications technology (ICT) for teaching and learning, with a further pound;24m going on administration.

Expenditure is less in primary schools with pound;48m being spent on teaching and learning and pound;18m on administration.

If the hardware has a shelf-life of five years, this would equate to an annual spend of about pound;40m or less than 1 per cent of the staffing bill.

With computer prices still falling, ICT will be the biggest revolution to hit schools since paper replaced the slate.

More on the ICT revolution in this week's Online magazine

John Howson is a fellow of Oxford Brookes University and runs an education research company. E-mail: TES Online Jobs website can be found at

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