Government pledges £50m for online curriculum

Tony Blair is set to announce a £50m scheme to bring computers into the classroom and introduce new electronic teaching materials

The Prime Minister has announced £50 million of new funding for the provision of an online education scheme in British schools.

Tony Blair and education and skills secretary Estelle Morris launched "Curriculum Online" on Monday. The funding will be made available to schools for the 2002-2003 academic year, to be spent on the implementation of Internet-enabled teaching materials in the classroom.

"Online curriculum resources on a national scale will be a world first," said a Department for Educations and Skills (DfES) spokesman. "The scheme will help to bring modern technology into the classroom, and will help to bring on pupils who are ahead or lagging through individualised learning."

Public and private broadcasters, including the BBC, will be providing material for every curriculum subject, and software developers will also be supporting the scheme.

Schools will receive the money in the form of e-Learning credits, which they will be able to redeem against products listed in a Curriculum Online portal. A further £2 million has also been set aside for the development of this portal.

The Curriculum Online scheme is designed to provide "an easily accessible, coherent and consistent set of educational resources", according to the consultation paper published in April. Of those that responded to the consultation, more than two-thirds agreed that that there was a need for curriculum teaching material to be provided in a digital format. The service will be available to teachers as well as parents.

"It will be an incredibly important tool for teachers in helping them to plan lessons," said Morris. "It will also broaden the access of pupils to online resources, allowing them to work at their own pace and tailor the resources they need."

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