A TOP prep school, famous for its rugby-mad boys, is challenging convention by teaching its pupils to touch-type.
Millfield preparatory school is putting its Year 7 pupils through an intensive week-long typing course and hopes they will reach speeds of 40 words per minute.
Teachers at the mixed-sex pound;14,000-a-year school believe the move heralds a shift away from the perception of typing as a subject for secretaries and less-able pupils and towards its recognition as an essential skill. Jonathan Ford, head of ICT, said: "This is a life skill that all pupils need - it will be a massive benefit when they move to senior school and beyond. It's not just secretaries that need to type letters - Jthere has been a change right across the field."
All 120 pupils will get 90 minutes' tuition a day for six days. Top speed so far is 25 wpm, but, with coaching in normal lessons, Mr Ford hopes all the pupils will get faster.
And even the most unlikely pupils appear to be benefiting.
"One group is all boys who are very sporty," Mr Ford said. "We impressed on them that this is a life skill, and their enjoyment and competitive edge when they were doing the course was phenomenal. Even on Saturday mornings they were coming in still wanting to develop and improve."
Headteacher Kevin Cheney, a self-confessed two-finger typist, said parents viewed the scheme "very favourably".
He added:"In life now you need to be able to use a computer effectively, and the only way to use it properly is to be able to touch-type."