More on the Net, but PC shortfall

10th November 2000 at 00:00
BESA's latest survey of ICTuse in UK schools throws up some interesting changes

Schools need another 300,000 computers to fulfil current ICT development plans, but the numbers of machines continues to grow steadily to an estimated 980,000 by April.

The findings, from the British Educational Suppliers Association's ICT in UK Schools 2000 survey, indicate a rise of almost 130,000 on the figure as at June this year.

According to the survey of 2,500 schools across the UK, all schools will be connected to the Internet by April, with 667,000 computers having Web access - an average of 23 per school. By then, the cost of Internet communication will exceed spending on telephone voice calls for the first time.

Staff Internet access in common rooms has also shot up, having nearly 9,000 schools now offering the facility, more than double last year's figure. Over 170,000 teachers are estimated to have Net access at home, with another 70,000 having a non-connected PC.

More than half of connected schools give all pupils Internet access and 90 per cent supervise this usage. Inappropriate Web access remains the prime concern for schools, with nearly half stating that plagiarism or piracy issues are not a concern. Viruses are another significant fear.

Online resources are becoming increasingly important, with 75 per cent of schools making eekly or monthly references to websites for sourcing curriculum content. About 16,000 use the National Grid for Learning (NGFL) website an average of two times a month and only 3,000 pay for Internet content.

However, the number of ICT competent teachers has increased by just two per cent since last year to 47 per cent, and 56 per cent of schools indicate the need for extensive training to help teachers.

The survey concludes that the availability of ICT facilities in key subjects has not resulted in competent usage, with ineffective use a particular problem in science and geography.

The Government's push for NGFL-badged managed services to make ICT easier for schools appears to be floundering, as less than seven per cent use one, while 26 per cent use another type of managed service. Advice on ICT from local authorities is seen as the best source of curriculum advice by schools.

Meanwhile, the Department for Education and Employment's Survey of Information and Communications Technology in Schools, England 2000, has revealed rises in the number of computers per school, spending on ICT and Internet links, but slight falls in the number of teachers who feel confident using ICT in the curriculum.

Chris Johnston


DFEE Statistical Bulletin

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