Sixth-form staff won't get laptop

10th March 2000 at 00:00
As a conference highlights the benefits of computers, there is anger in colleges at their exclusion from the schools' subsidy.

THE 7,500 teachers in sixth-form colleges are not eligible for the government subsidy to help them buy their own computer, The TES has learned.

The exclusion comes despite 90 per cent of college teachers having the same professional qualifications as their school counterparts.

And Miriam Stanton, principal of Bede College in Billingham, said: "It's an insult. Don't sixth-form students deserve computer-literate teachers too?"

She said the exclusion was even more difficult to understand now that sixth-form colleges teach more 16 to 19-year-olds than secondary schools.

The Department for Education and Employment said the computer subsidy was set up to complement the Lottery-funded programme that aims to train schoolteachers in information and communications technology.

So far more than 22,000 teachers have applied for the maximum rebate of pound;500 to buy computers costing at least pound;1,000.

But the department has said there is not enough money to extend the scheme to staff in sixth-form colleges.

A DFEE spokeswoman said the subsidy "could not be extended to sixth-form teachers within the overall level of resources available".

The Sixth Form College Employers' Association has spoken to the Government aboutthe omission, but was not confident that the situation would change.

Sue Witham, the association's chief executive, said it was another example of sixth-form colleges being overlooked by government.

Lecturers in further education colleges have also been left out. A spokesperson for lecturers' union NATFHE said it had received many angry calls from FE staff.

The DFEE said the Government was focusing its priorities on schools because of the mandatory ICT curriculum for all pupils aged five to 16.

Its spokeswoman said: "Priorities have to be established and this has not allowed any central support for subsidising the purchase of PCs by FE staff".

NATFHE believed the money should be found if the Government was serious about raising educational standards across the board. "There is no reason why college staff should be any different from teachers."

The FE sector is getting pound;74 million for new technology over the next two years. One goal is ensuring every lecturer has personal access to a computer at college.

In the absence of government help, Calderdale College has set up a scheme to give staff access to more affordable computers.

It allows them to buy machines at up to 10 per cent off retail prices and make interest-free payments. Staff in local schools and universities will also be able to take advantage of the offer.

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