During the 1990s, schools funded their IT purchase from their own funds or from the various grant schemes available. The Department's IT in Schools Strategy adopted a policy of funding projects that ranged from developmental to evaluative to purchasing schemes with the purpose of stimulating new technologies such as CD-ROMs.
Work in Progress - needs to be completed
Phillip Lewis, DES
In the 1980s the DTI funded various software and hadware schemes, partly to help schools and colleges but also to stimulate British industry. At the Department for Education and Science, Phillip Lewis put together a strong internal case for continued funding through government support schemes such as ESG and GEST. These were grants to support LEAs on training in the use of IT in schools and for the purchase of microcomputers and other IT equipment.
The strategy also includes the piloting and development of the application of newer technologies for educational purposes, and it was within that framework that the IV pilot project - like the earlier CD-ROM project - was funded.. As well as getting his own budget to spend on developments, part of Phillip Lewis's strategy was to use end of year money to fund IT projects. This was unspent money within the Department that would have been returned to the Treasury because of the "annuality" rule, where money allocated to a particular financial year had to be spent in that year. IT projects, particularly those involving purchasing of IT equipment, could quickly "mop" up this unspent money in March at the end of the financial year. NCET became adept (Wagstaffe, 1997) at working with the Department to create schemes to spend this money.
Because applications of IT appear in programs of study and attainment targets for core and foundation subjects of the National Curriculum, the govemment specified a program in 1990 to develop some new computer software. The specflic objective of the programme, managed by NCET and budgeted at £750,000, was to provide software and related materials for such areas as handling data in mathematics lessons, supporting practical work in science, and creating projects in design and technology.
The Educational Software Partnership Scheme was funded by the DES to develop a range of new software for the national curriculum. It was a partnership scheme where commercial companies bid for development money to meet standards set by NCET and a number of products emerged. These were shown at the BETT' 92 exhibition at the Barbican in Ianuary 1992.
The project to pilot the curriculum use of Interactive Video (IV) and associated technologies was announced in November 1991 at the RESOURCE Conference by Michael Fallon, then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools. The aim of the initiative was to investigate IV as a resource for teaching and learning in the context of the National Curriculum. The first phase of this pilot project, involved 35 schools and the project was managed by the National Council for Educational Technology who appointed the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University as evaluators (NCET, 1994).
The project covered a range of curriculum areas including mathematics, science and technology. One aim of the project was to pilot The World of Number discs which focus on number within National Curriculum mathematics, and which were developed by the National Curriculum Council with Government funding of £1.2M. The first phase took place within the schools year 1992-93. The project was extended to a second phase within the school year 1993-94, to allow schools in all English LEAs, and a limited number of Grant-Maintained schools, to participate in piloting the number discs.
The evaluation of the project made some useful conclusion including:
- the idea that interactive technologies could replace teachers is not supported by the evidence,
- pupils enjoy using the new technolog valuing its engaging qualities,
- pupils with learning difficulties derive particular benefit from new techology, because it engages attention
and increases concentration,
- little evidence to support the idea that new technology can be a school-based independent learning
system implying that systems should be classroom and curriculum-based.
The Department of Education and Science followed this scheme by asking us to manage a CD- ROM evaluation scheme towards the end of 1991.
at the beginning of 1992.
The Under Secretary of State for Education, Michael Fallon, announced at the Resource Conference in Doncaster on 14 November 1991, funding of £1,250,000 for further work on CD-ROM and Interactive Video.
1990-2 DES National Curriculum Software Development 0.7
NCC Mathematics IV Development Project 1.2
1992 DES CD-ROM and Interactive Video scheme 3.0
1992--4 DES CD-ROM Development Partnership Scheme 0.7
Teachers on the
for teachers scheme
In 1996 the DfEE funded the National Council for Educational Technology to run a scheme to provide teachers with high specification laptop computers with the aim of improving their IT skills and helping them to enrich the curriculum for their pupils. A second phase of this project in 1997 gave a further 350 teachers multi-media portable computers including a pilot group of 44 aspiring headteachers who were undertaking the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) .
Phase I of the pilot ran from January 1996 to JuIy I997, Phase II from January 1997 until July 1998.
Under the first Phase, 1138 teachers in 575 primary and secondary schools in England were provided with a multimedia portable computer with connectivity together with Intemet subscriptions, core software and a number of CD-ROM titles. Four different computer models were procured, with a variety of subject-specific software. NCET managed the procurement, delivery and demonstration of the equipment, the process for nomination and identification of participants, the support and follow-up of participants, and the evaluation of the project. Following a restricted tendering process, NCET appointed an evaluation team from the University of Nottingham led by Professor Colin Harrison to conduct an independent evaluation.
NCET, (1993) "Envision Summer 1993" NCET, Coventry
Wagstaffe A. (1997) "Pennies from Heaven" Envision 1997, Issue 3, p20-21, NCET, Coventry