HC Deb 04 May 2000 vol 349 cc286-7
9. Mrs. Betty Williams (Conwy)

If he will make a statement on the development of the national grid for learning. [119626]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment (Mr. Michael Wills)

The national grid for learning has made great strides towards becoming the centre for learning on the Internet. We have made tremendous progress in connecting our primary and secondary schools to the internet, and we are on target for making sure that every school in the country is connected by 2002. A great deal has already been achieved. However, much remains to be done. That is why we have made more funding available for the next two years.

Mrs. Williams

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. He said earlier that 62 per cent. of primary schools had been connected to the internet by last year. Will he confirm that 93 per cent. of secondary schools had also been connected by last year? Will he stress that new technology can be used to enhance standards for pupils with special educational needs?

Mr. Wills

I am happy to confirm that 93 per cent. of secondary schools are connected to the internet. We expect every secondary school in the country to have access to the internet by 2002.

Information and communications technology is important for the education of all children, but it can be a key resource for children with special educational needs. It has enormous potential to enhance the educational experiences of those pupils and the capacity to open the door to their full participation in education alongside their peers. It is a powerful means of combating the exclusion of that specific group of pupils.

As part of our strategy for ensuring that the national grid for learning deals fully with those needs, we launched a new website—the inclusion site—earlier this year. We believe that it will become the centre for resources and advice on special educational needs.

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