There were few computers in the primary sector prior to the eighties (Govier, 2004). A few enterprising Heads such as Tony Richardson at Green Lanes Junior and Infant School, Chelmsley Wood and Bob Hart at The Pines, Hertfordshire experimented with microcomputers.....More Needed?
In April 1981 a conference was held in the School of Education at Exeter University. There were 130 delegates and a group of them including primary teachers, headteachers, advisors, and lecturers formed a steering group and started MAPE, Micros and Primary Education, which was officially launched in January 1982 at a subscription rate of £7.50p per year. (Govier, 2004) .
MAPE's aim was to 'promote and develop the awareness and effective use of microelectronics as an integral part of the philosophy and practice of primary education' and set itself up as a self-help group of enthusiasts sharing expertise and disseminating good practice. It grew and grew and in the late eighties had a membership of over 4000.
In January 1981 Newman College published the first edition of a newsletter called MICRO-SCOPE. This stood for MICROcomputer Software COoperation for Primary Education and was circulated to local primary schools and later to LEA advisors. Roger Keeling was its first editor and it was adopted by MAPE as its publication.
Director, MEP Primary
The Director they appointed in 1983 was Anita Straker, previously Wiltshire's maths advisor and a software writer for primary schools of some repute (Johnston, 1999).
It was a fabulous time in a sense because everybody was so enthusiastic. It was breaking new ground. I think it was a great shame that the Government of the day stopped the money (in 1986), as we'd only just scratched the surface." Anita Straker
Anita Straker was unusually prescient in her view of future change. In her presidential address to the Mathematics Association (Straker, 1987, pp.191-2) she seems to accurately predict laptop computers and the Internet!
In 25 years time I believe that there will still be schools. I believe that by then a small, light-weight micro will be as cheap and as commonplace as the slate was fifty years ago, something that all children could carry to school in
their satchels. The mini-micro will be solar powered, and a fold-up plasma screen will provide a colour display. At school, or at home, it will be possible to connect the mini-micro to devices like sophisticated graph plotters, or to a
large computerised database, either directly or via the telephone service.
She was also a strong advocate of
Johnston C. (1999) 'A catalyst within the system. Interview; Anita Straker, Times Educational Supplement 16 April, 1999 [online]
Govier H. (2004) 'Micros and Primary Education (MAPE)' NAACE [online]
Straker A. (1987) The Challenge to Change 1987 Presidential Address The Mathematical Gazette, Vol. 71, No. 457 (Oct., 1987), pp. 179-193 [online]