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Volcanoes made easy

CHARLES Darwin school is part of the technological age. It has a seven-part plan to increase its computer use, and a pound;40,000 grant from the National Grid for Learning will enable the first two phases to go ahead.

Assistant head Craig Channell said that the project's aim is to use the Internet and the school's own computer network to get pupils more interested in homework.

For a lesson on volcanoes a teacher would write a document in a normal word-processing program. This can be easily converted into a document for the intranet - the school's computer network - and would contain links to Internet sites on volcanoes, providing pupils with independent learning materials at a low cost.

Pupils with a home computer can dial into the intranet, or use terminals during breaks. Each pupil also has an e-mail address. The ultimate aim is to provide every student with a computer.

Charles Darwin has embraced information technology as a way of meeting parents' rising expectations of education while government funding remains relatively flat, Mr Channell said.

To help this process, it has become one of the few schools to set up its own limited company to help obtain income and resources. The venture has proved very successful: Darwin Associates Ltd has won more than pound;150,000 in grants. It also acts as a consultant to local businesses - one is now sending its staff to the school for basic IT training.

Rob Higgins, the head, says the company is creating an "enterprise culture" in the school and has boosted staff morale. Staff members who have a project that needs funding can make a proposal to the company and explore ways of obtaining money.

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