§ Lord Kennet
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they are ensuring that pupils with an outstanding aptitude for computers in schools 196WA throughout the country are being provided with facilities necessary for them to develop their skills. [HL4678]
§ Lord Bach
The Government National Grid for Learning initiative is ensuring that all children are being provided with the facilities necessary to develop ICT skills. We are supporting over £750 million expenditure to provide all schools with equipment and networking. This funding will enable all schools to be connected to the grid by 2002, and will provide them with online access to a wide range of educational and managerial resources. In one year, to March 1999, figures for schools' connection to the Internet have risen from 13 per cent to 62 per cent for primary schools and 83 per cent to 93 per cent for secondary schools.
We are providing a range of additional measures to meet the needs of all pupils including those with an aptitude in this area. These include: specialist technology colleges; summer schools and master classes; and the new City Learning Centres being introduced first in Excellence in Cities areas.
There is a dedicated strand within the Excellence in Cities initiative aimed at improving educational provision for all gifted and talented children. The initiative will involve around 42,000 children in some 450 secondary schools and include ICT-specific opportunities: for example that developed by the University of the First Age.