Headlines: January 11th, 2008

Parents are to get regular electronic reports on their children’s progress in future. Schools Minister Jim Knight has said all secondary schools will be expected to have reporting systems up and running by 2010 with primary schools following two years later. A YouGov study, commissioned by information systems provider Pearson Phoenix, and published separately, found that eight out of ten parents of secondary school pupils said such a service would be helpful.

Alongside the announcement on Real-time reporting, Mr. Knight gave details of 30 million pounds over the next three years to help low-income families to buy computers and connect to broadband internet services for school work. He also launched a 600,000 pound pilot, run by Becta, the Government’s schools technology agency, to look at lowering the cost of devices and connectivity.

Real-time reporting will allow parents to access frequently updated information on their child’s progress, attendance, behaviour and special needs using secure, online systems. Other possibilities include text alert systems, access to a school intranet, email or even video-conferencing. Becta’s role will be to guide schools in adapting their existing technology and advising them on improvements.

Mr. Knight said, “Real time reporting will deepen the school-parent relations and is not a substitute for regular personal contact with teachers. Effective technology systems can actually significantly cut the staff workloads, but it has to be to be manageable for individual schools and meaningful for parents.”

He also confirmed that the Home Access Taskforce, set up last year, would publish recommendations in April on making universal home computer access a reality, particularly in disadvantaged areas, and on providing the technical and maintenance support to back it up.