The pound;230 million Lottery-funded programme to train teachers in information and communications technology was on track, delegates were told at the NAACE computer advisers' conference in Liverpool last month.
Anthea Millett, the chief executive of the Teacher Training Agency, said subject-specific booklets would be distributed to schools in England this month to help teachers identify their needs for the training programme, which the TTA is overseeing. She said an interactive CD-Rom would be distributed to schools in the summer term. "I am confident that all of the materials will be extremely useful for teachers and headteachers planning their training."
Meanwhile, schools minister Charles Clarke said effective local support networks were needed to help schools and teachers keep up with developments in the rapidly changing world of ICT. He told the conference that the picture was mixed and that gaps in provision were unacceptable. "I hope managed services which carry guarantees of support will help, but schools need choice, a broad range of local support."
In a speech that repeated many of the points he made at the BETT exhibition in January, Mr Clarke again called for key ICT players to liaise better with each other. "Commercial ICT providers need to develop proper partnerships with the Government, and developers of schools' ICT educational material should be working with those who play a part in developing material available from high street stores." The minister added that schools could do more to develop relationships with local businesses that use cutting-edge ICT daily.
Asked by a delegate about the fairness of distributing National Grid for Learning funding based on the quality of local authority bids, Mr Clarke acknowledged that there were inequalities but said that the latest round of bids were much better than last year. While hoping that this made the process more equitable than it had been, he added that he was prepared to re-examine some of the issues if necessary.
Owen Lynch, chief executive of the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, signalled a new spirit of engagement between BECTA and NAACE. As at BETT, he stressed the importance of proving the need for using ICT in education and establishing a sustainable infrastructure for buying and maintaining equipment.