Resources and skills the key
The "Primary Schools of the Future - Achieving Today" report from the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) claims to break new ground by providing "a cumulative weight of evidence that the effective use of ICT is helping to raise standards in our schools".
The study is based on data from Ofsted inspections of 2,110 primaries; Qualifications and Curriculum Authority figures on standards in English, maths and science in those schools; DFEE benchmarking data and the results of its ICT in Schools survey.
It was found that schools with good ICT resources generally outperformed those with unsatisfactory resources in the 1999 key stage 2 tests in English, maths and science. An average of 76 per cent of pupils achieved level 4 or above in English, compared with 71 per cent in schools with poor ICT resources.
The difference is said to be significant, as it is equivalent to one year's typical progress towards the national target for literacy.
Attainment is even higher whn good ICT resources are combined with good ICT teaching, the report finds. Such schools were twice as likely to be above national standards as those with good resources but poor curriculum ICT - one of the most significant outcomes of the research. For English, the figure was 68 per cent compared with 35 per cent.
In schools with good ICT resources, 67 per cent that used ICT in maths were above national standards compared to 45 per cent where ICT was not mentioned in maths.
ICT was also found to have the greatest impact when combined with good management.
Professor David Reynolds of Exeter University writes in the report's preface that the research "sets new standards of methodological decency" and is based on large samples.
Later this month Becta will publish a similar study into ICT at key stages 3 and 4. It has found that 77 per cent of pupils at schools with good ICT resources achieved level 5 or above in English, compared to only 68 per cent in those with less "ICT savvy".
Chris Johnston "Primary Schools of the Future - Achieving Today" can be read at: www.becta.org.uknewsreportsprimaryfuture