Headlines: October 20th, 2006



Some eighty percent of secondary school pupils in the UK have computers at home, but this leaves one million children without access to the Internet at home because there is no computer in the house. In a move to shrink this digital divide the Department for Education and Skills has launched a ‘Computers for Pupils’ initiative under which eligible schools will receive 10,000 pounds to allow them to fund computers and Internet access.

Studies in the UK and across the world have shown the importance of having access to computers and the Internet at home, both for children and parents. Benefits include improving attainment generally, developing a key life skill and gaining access to a wider and more flexible range of learning materials. The research has also shown benefits for parents including finding out about current and prospective schools through websites, keeping in touch with educational and social events being organised by the school and playing a more active role in school life.

The test bed project on which the initiative is based has shown that having a computer at home does make a difference. In Barking and Dagenham where 750 computers were loaned to pupils, schools are reporting a number of benefits like improved ICT skills and better communication between school and home. In Aston, with the support of the University of Central England, the whole family have been engaged with technology and lifelong learning. By the end of next year, 700 families will benefit from a computer, wireless connectivity and training and support to use the facilities.