Fifty million curriculum-based games were played last year by British children on GridClub, the Bafta award-winning website, funded north of the border by the Scottish Government's education department. But Scottish primary schools must now pay for the website themselves, since government funding ceased in December.
In November 2006, Learning and Teaching Scotland described GridClub in its Connected magazine as "the official Scottish Executive Education Department's free online education project for 7-11 year olds" and celebrated its success. "Schools in Scotland ranging from the Papa Westray in Orkney to Cornton Primary in Stirling have logged on and are taking advantage of the hundreds of free resources GridClub has to offer," it reported.
But in June last year, LTS told GridClub that "despite very positive responses from recent surveys and continuing usage by almost 80 per cent of primary schools", it was "no longer in a position, for a number of reasons, to continue to fund GridClub such that all schools have continuing access".
A spokeswoman for LTS told The TESS this week: "Funding was only allocated for a few years, to give local authorities the chance to explore the service."
GridClub was launched in Scotland in 2001 as an official SEED-funded online resource for 7-11 year olds, supporting primary schools through learning activities and games, a reference section, a large teacher's area with curriculum links, lesson plans and worksheets and a parents' area. It was then extended to cater for 5-12 year-olds.
In an LTS survey carried out in 2007, 97 per cent of the teachers who used it said it had an impact on their teaching and improved pupil engagement. Between January and October, 1,658 schools used the site, says Simon Fuller, managing director of Grid Learning. "This does not include all schools in Glasgow and Dundee, where there was direct access via the city portal."
The cost to schools will now be on a basis of pound;1.50 per pupil for school access or pound;3 for school and home access for 12 months. Schools subscribing in the next few weeks will be able to get 15 months for the price of 12. Secondary schools, which would use the site for children in S1 and S2 who may have additional needs, will be able to subscribe for a fixed fee of pound;295.
"We have tried to keep the cost low while still being viable and make it fair," says Mr Fuller. "So far, more than 700 Scottish schools have subscribed and we expect to reach 1,000 by mid-2008."
The TESS is offering 10 schools the chance to win a year's free subscription to GridClub.
To enter the competition, send in a postcard, with no more than 100 words on the best use you have got out of GridClub and why you want to keep it.
Postcards including your name, daytime telephone number and school address, should reach us by January 30, 2008.
GridClub Competition, TES Scotland, Thistle House, 21-23 Thistle Street, Edinburgh EH2 1DF.