Schools promised £840m for IT

The government has allocated £837m to provide IT equipment and facilities in schools over the next three years.

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The government has allocated £837m to provide IT equipment and facilities in schools over the next three years.

The cash boost for IT comes from the Department of Children Schools and Families’ £21.9bn capital allocation for the 2007 comprehensive spending review period.

It is set to fund developments such as an individual online learning space for every child.

The £837m total includes £603m to be divided among every school and local authority in England through the Harnessing Technology Grant – the mechanism for funding the government’s national e-strategy for schools.

The remaining £234m has yet to be allocated, but is expected to fund projects launched by Becta, the government’s education IT agency.

Announcing the IT money along with details of other education funding allocations, the schools secretary Ed Balls said: “Top-class and well-designed facilities are central to raising standards and helping teachers inspire our young people. Every child and community should have high quality classrooms and cutting-edge ICT, music and sports facilities.”

The funding comes as the education watchdog Ofsted pointed to an increased use of IT and online materials in its 2006-07 annual report.

“Staff were using new technology with beneficial impact on pupils’ attitudes to learning,” the report says, adding: “There were examples of schools using information and communication technology to provide more personalised approaches to learning, some of which enabled young people to continue their learning in their own time at home.”

But the report also noted problems in the computing curriculum for secondary school children aged between 14 and 16. “The curriculum for information and communication technology (ICT) in Key Stage 4 is not improving, and the development of ICT skills to support learning across the curriculum remains too dependent on the expertise of individual subject teachers,” it says.

Earlier this year, Becta published its first guidance document for schools and local authorities on how to spend IT grant money effectively. But controversially, the guidance made no reference to open source software. MPs have criticised the agency for “outdated purchasing frameworks” that deter the use of open source.

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