Headlines: January 22nd, 2009

More than 800,000 children and young people in England are currently not online at home and they form a substantial part of the “digital divide”. Pilot schemes are set to launch next month to explore how the digital divide for young people can be closed.

Becta, the government agency leading the national drive to ensure the effective and innovative use of technology throughout learning, has selected the suppliers for the Home Access programme pilots. The aim is to utilise the benefits of technology to create a more exciting, rewarding and successful experience for learners of all ages and abilities, enabling them to achieve their potential.

The pilots will run in Oldham and Suffolk from February. Practical and financial support will be provided to low-income families to get them online. Families in these areas with children aged 7-18 in full-time state-maintained education will be eligible to take part.

The families will be able to buy all or some elements of approved Next Generation Learning @ Home packages. These consist of a computer, internet access, software and support services. Families eligible for financial help will get funding from a Home Access Grant scheme run by the local authority.

The ultimate aim of the Home Access programme is to enable every child in England to have access to a computer and the internet at home.