Switched off to switching on;Opinion;Leading article

19th February 1999 at 00:00
THE GOVERNMENT has set such ambitions for education that it will hardly be surprising if some remain no more than targets by 2002. The assumption that every teacher will be "confident" in using all aspects of technology within three years must now be a large one following the latest research on teachers' IT needs (page five).

The report from Robert Gordon University is not as outdated as are many such exercises. We have the picture up to last April when, we are told, there was a low level of involvement by both primary and secondary teachers in IT and a low quality of usage. That is hardly encouraging, given the intensive promotion of technology as a learning tool in teacher training and teaching practice.

No doubt, the laissez-faire approach of the past few years has not helped, with plenty of rhetoric but not much more. There is clearly nothing wrong with national ambitions and general enthusiasm: last week's Scottish Office conference had those in abundance. But like much else associated with the Government's largesse, the effects of the pound;62 million National Grid for Learning and a pound;20 million teacher training programme will take time to filter through. The Robert Gordon research ought to be required reading in the meantime.

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