§ Mr. Lawrence
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will take steps to ensure an increased supply of information technology equipment in schools; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Butcher
Yes. My Department has made excellent progress towards the introduction and use of information technology equipment in schools and continues to do all it can to support this continuing commitment.
Following the success of the "Micros in Schools" and "Modems in Schools" schemes, which supported the additional purchases of equipment by schools, my Department launched a three-year scheme — "Support for Educational Software" —in October 1985 which aims to ensure that existing hardware in schools is supported by an adequate supply of educational software.
Notwithstanding the success of these schemes it has been found that the provision of IT hardware, including peripheral equipment in schools, is uneven and in certain respects still less extensive than schools need. In order to help counter this shortfall my Department launched a "IT Equipment for Schools" initiative on Monday 9 March. This will make available a further £3.5 million to be spent on IT equipment in schools in the remainder of the current financial year to enable local education authorities to give a modest boost to their existing provision of equipment. This offer of additional funding is available throughout the United Kingdom both to the state and to independent sectors and I hope it will go some way towards enabling the education system to maximise the potential of existing hardware by purchasing printers and disc drives to complement their micro computers, modems and software. Where schools within local education authorities 197W are adequately provided with this equipment, the remaining sums may be devoted to purchase micro computers.