School tech a 'trojan horse' for families

Technology in schools can be a "trojan horse" to families sneaking knowledge and services into the homes of those who would not otherwise receive them, according to the education minister.

In a speech at the education and tech show BETT in London yesterday, Jim Knight said many parents see technology as a way of improving their children's lives, but it could also help them. "Technology can be a Trojan horse for those parents, bringing knowledge, learning, and useful services direct into people's homes," he said.

"So when we talk about education, we can't just be thinking about school," he added.

Knight warned that such opportunities needed to be open to every child and family or the UK risked widening the gap between wealthier families and the poor. Knight said the government's 300 million Home Access programme, which aims to ensure all students have a computer with broadband access, will likely kick off by the end of the year following a trial next month.

Calling on industry to support the programme, Knight said Microsoft had "risen to the challenge" and signed up to help fund a foundation to support home access. "So I repeat the challenge to others - I hope other industry leaders will respond to this move and join in."

Knight also said that the digital communications and technology secotors were worth 52 billion a year in the UK making those areas increasingly important during a recession.

"As we seek stability and we look to future growth from the current financial climate, Britain must continue to lead the way in innovation and technology, by nurturing those industries, and the skills and talent which support them," he told attendees of the show.

The minister claimed UK schools have been making progress with IT, saying 99 per cent have broadband, half have interactive whiteboards, and the computer-to-student ratio has improved to 1:3 from 1:19 a decade ago.