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Schools fail Net test

Bill Goodwin
Britain's schools are failing to offer enough pupils access to the Internet, despite a sharp increase in the number of computers available in the classroom, a survey shows.

Almost every school is now online, but the limited bandwidth available means that an average of only six pupils in each school can use the Internet at any one time.

The findings from a survey of 2,000 schools by the British Educational Suppliers Association (Besa), have raised questions about the Government's plans to deliver large parts of the national curriculum online.

Research by the E-skills National Training Organ-isation has shown that pupils' experiences of computing at school is a decisive factor in deciding whether to pursue a career in IT.

The survey raises concerns that 67% of schools are choosing to place IT in specialist laboratories, so limiting pupils' day-to-day access.

Experts suggest that the UK should follow the example of Sweden, which integrates computers seamlessly into the classroom.

Despite the shortfalls, Besa's research shows that there have been dramatic increases in the amount of IT in the UK's primary and secondary schools over the past 12 months.

The stock of computers has grown by 24% to an average of 34 desktop computers per school.

By 2002 schools will have 1.1 million computers if current growth rates continue.

The number of laptops in schools is also increasing.

Computers in schools: the key facts

  • Number of computers in schools has increased by 24% over the past year to 1 million


  • Number of schools with Internet connections has risen to 75%


  • Only special schools keep most of their PCs in the classroom


  • Number of schools with at least one laptop has risen from 62% last year to 87%.


  • Not until 2005 will the penetration of PCs reach the Government's target of six per pupil.

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