The suppliers for the pilot schemes – in Oldham and Suffolk – which start in February are Centerprise International Ltd, Positive IT Solutions, RM Education plc, Stone Computers Ltd and XMA Ltd. They are authorized to supply Next Generation Learning @ Home packages: computer, internet access, software and support services. Eligible families in Oldham and Suffolk can buy all or some elements of these packages with financial help provided through a local authority-run Home Access Grant scheme. Government ICT agency Becta has announced the approved suppliers for the pilot phase of the scheme – the Home Access programme - to give every child in England access to a computer and the internet at home. Becta has also announced a new foundation, set up with initial sponsorship from Microsoft, to provide support and training for parents and teachers to help children in the scheme.
Becta aims to use feedback from the pilots – what works well and what is problematic – to tweak the national roll-out of the scheme.
The Home Access programme, announced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in September, will help low-income families with children aged 7-18 in full-time education to get online. It is part of Becta's Next Generation Learning campaign.
"There's clear evidence to show that effective use of technology really does boost a child's achievement," said Becta chief executive Stephen Crowne (above). "We need to ensure that every child has an equal chance to tap into the benefits of the internet to support their learning at home."
Commenting on Microsoft’s support in setting up the new foundation, the company’s UK director of education Steve Beswick, said: "We believe that all children should have access to the learning tools they need in order to realise their full potential. As part of a global programme, we have created an investment fund to support activities that will help ensure the home access programme has maximum impact. Our goal is now to support Becta in setting up the foundation and encourage others across the industry to get involved."