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Top tips and money-saving ideas for your school

With ICT expenditure in schools at an all-time high, how efficiently is that money being spent? And why are there such disparities? How can you get the most for your money and ensure your school gets what it really needs? George Cole looks at the broader issues of ICT funding, while other writers examine the key issues in depth

* At Murphy Crescent School in Bishop's Auckland, teachers, tired of their special needs kids fiddling with controls of monitors, built special enclosures to keep hands out and saved themselves time and the school money.

* Don't dump your computers says Philip Edwards in Cwmaber Primary a small school in Abertridwr, south Wales. He uses a variety of platforms: Apple, PC and Archimedes all running Internet software, all accessing the Internet. Philip saw that the Internet worked in similar ways on all of them, together they create a very useful cross-platform learning environment. Philip has also discovered one site where some of the work of the pupils can be sent to a central location, marked and then returned.

* Preet Sahota wants his school not only to be different but to look different. He looked carefully and imaginatively at thebudget and employed Maria Aldridge for two days as schools effectiveness co-ordinator to re-design the school environment. The result is a unique school environment. People talk about the school of the future; this one looks like the school of the future. The rooms and furniture were built to Maria's designs and the costs were not markedly higher than they would have been with conventional furniture. The effect on the children is marked.

* It is so easy to fall in to the ICT=PC mindset. John Seamen, head of science at Kelvin Hall School in Hull, found that desktops were a problem - large, hard work and clumsy. He looked at Psion palmtops and bought 12 that cost about the same as two conventional PCs. He can involve a whole class in data-logging with machines that are much simpler to use and less stressful to manage.

* Interactive whiteboards are very inviting but you can do a great deal with a cheaper data projector argues Richard Heppell of Beauchamp College in Oadby. Part of the impact is the size of the image. Put a small Web camera into the equation and you can show quite intricate operations taking place at the teacher's desk to the whole class.

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