Tech key to education, says minister

UK leads use of IT in schools, Jim Knight has said, as he launches a new government plan to keep up with the pace of change.

All students need good access to technology to help them learn, according to schools minister Jim Knight.

Launching a new IT-in-education strategy, Knight claimed that the UK is one of the global leaders for using technology in learning. "But the pace of development in technology has been staggering over the last three years in how it is used by young people, schools, communities and businesses," he added.

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To keep up with the pace of change, the government's tech-in-education body Becta, produced the new six-year plan and will attempt to implement it.

Knight said: "We want every educational institution to harness technology's potential, every teacher and student to use it confidently. Children and young people must have access to high-quality technology to enhance their studies be it at home or in school."

The new Harnessing Technology strategy looks to enable disadvantaged learners to use technology, boost access to learning tools, improve teaching, develop a national digital infrastructure and mobilise leadership throughout the education system. The Becta web site contains more details of the report and the strategy.

Stephen Crowne, chief executive of Becta, said that any consideration of the future of education must include technology. But he added: "The updated Harnessing Technology Strategy is about technology enabling improvement, not technology for technology's sake."

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Becta also announced that it has awarded its ICT Mark to a thousand UK schools since it started in 2006. The mark is awarded to schools which use technology to improve teaching.

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Christine Smythe, headteacher at the milestone school St Dunstan's Cheam Church of England Primary School in Sutton, said: "Our staff work really hard to ensure that technology is embedded in the curriculum, from our nursery school children using metal detectors to learn about the properties of metal, to our older pupils, who use technology across the curriculum, from composing music digitally, to using tablet PCs."

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