Teachers give postitive response to 'cyber' budget

In his budget speech yesterday Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown pledged £1.7 bn for the 'Computers for All Initiative' in a bid to "make Britain a leader in the information economy".
Written by Tim Kelly, Contributor

Brown said: "Our target is a national network of 1000 computer learning centres, one for every community in Britain . . . a whole network of computer learning with one purpose only, that the whole of Britain is equipped for the information age."

The Chancellor went on to pledge a further £20 million to enable more teachers to have computers at home. The new economy will see 32,000 schools going online and computer training for 370,000 teachers. A spokesperson for the National Union of Teachers said: "Information Technology is constantly changing and we welcome any opportunity to keep abreast of those changes. Teachers need to be re-trained constantly in order to keep abreast."

Chris Thatcher, Vice President of the National Association of Head Teachers said: "We welcome any new investment, and the recognition is greatly appreciated. It would be nice to see every teacher with a computer." But whilst the hardware funding is welcome, there is growing awareness of the skill gap that has to be bridged. "there is a lot of work needed regarding training. For teachers in the older age group, say 40 to 50, IT is a relatively new concept compared to twenty-something teachers who have grown up with IT." said Thatcher.

The cyber budget will give one million men and women £150 to set up Individual Learning Accounts - accounts tailored to the individuals learning needs - and will introduce legislation to enable employees to contribute tax-free to those accounts. Adults with IL Accounts will be able to claim a discount of 20 percent on the cost of their learning.

Further details on the implications of yesterday's budget will be available tomorrow, after the budget debate has opened in the House of Commons.

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