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TASK FORCE TO TAKE FORWARD ICT IN SCHOOLS

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Education minister Jane Davidson has awarded a contract to develop strategic initiatives to improve information com...
Education minister Jane Davidson has awarded a contract to develop strategic initiatives to improve information communication technology provision in schools across Wales to Atkins Education.

The£1.02m contract, which is to form an ICT task force, will work with the Welsh assembly government on providing guidance to LEAs on maintenance of equipment, developing a strategy for buying ICT hardware, and compiling data on the ICT provision in schools. It will also look at development of video conferencing facilities in sixth forms to support the teaching of small classes and minority subjects.

Jane Davidson said: 'Atkins Education will bring a valuable combination of project management, procurement and technical expertise to this important area of work. They will also be drawing on the views and experience of the education community throughout Wales through a detailed process of consultation and discussion with authorities and schools.

'The task force will help in ensuring that ICT investment is managed in an effective and sustainable way, with appropriate technical support, in order to meet the needs of pupils and teachers.'

The Welsh assembly government has invested over£60m in ICT provision over the past few years and through Cymru Ar-lein we are working to connect all schools in Wales to a high-speed broadband network. The minister stressed that ICT has an important role to play in making Wales a learning country.

Ms Davidson added: 'It's vital that young people have the opportunity to develop the skills and understanding, which will help equip them for life in the information age. The Welsh assembly government is determined to exploit the enormous potential of ICT as a tool to support teaching and learning across the curriculum in Wales.'

Robin Southwell, chief executive officer of Atkins, said: 'This contract represents a significant achievement for our education services in Wales. Our team will assist the Welsh assembly government in their plans to improve standards of information and communication technology in the 2500 schools in Wales. We see the ICT task force as an exciting and visionary initiative, which will place Welsh teachers and students at the forefront of education development, and we are delighted to be partnering with the Welsh assembly government in this project.'

Notes:

The proposal for establishing an ICT task force arose from the education and lifelong learning committee's review of ICT in schools, the principal recommendations of which were adopted by the assembly in March 2001.

The three-year contract, which is worth£1.02m, was advertised in October 2001 under European procurement regulations.

Under the ICT Task Force contract, Atkins Education will develop strategic initiatives to improve ICT provision in schools including:

-- development of national procurement arrangements for schools ICT;

-- reviewing and making recommendations on funding options including PFI/PPP;

-- providing guidance to LEAs on maintenance and technical support;

-- capturing and maintaining data on ICT provision in schools; and,

-- development of videoconferencing in sixth forms to support teaching of small classes and minority subjects.

-- Atkins Education will report key issues to the minister and the advisory panel on ICT in schools.

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