The increased use of information communications technology (ICT) in schools has been one of the major reasons for the recent improvement in school standards in England. As BECTA, the government agency responsible for promoting the use of ICT in

schools and colleges, said in a recent report, particular progress has been made in the past five years with now an estimated 60 per cent of our secondary school teachers having access, competence and the motivation to use the internet and computers in the classroom. This is by far the highest proportion among European countries, with only 19 per cent of French teachers having similar skills.1 The introduction of the General National Vocational Qualification in ICT in the 1980s, which was given the equivalency of four A-C grades at GCSE, was clearly one of the driving forces in this success. BECTA defines e-maturity as the capacity of a learning institute to make strategic and

effective use of technology to improve educational outcomes. They estimate that in 2007, 27 per cent of all secondary and primary schools had achieved e-maturity.2 However, there are still a significant number of schools which do not yet have either the right equipment or sufficient teachers trained in the use of technology. Thomas Telford City Technology College, founded in 1991 and under the out-

standing leadership of its principal, Sir Kevin Satchwell, has led the way in the use of ICT in schools, including provision of learning materials for the GNVQ in IT. Its pupils got 98 per cent five good grades at GCSE including maths and English, in 2008. Telford CTC pioneered the GNVQ IT course and provided appropriate online teaching materials. With the fees earned from the programme, the school has sponsored seventy-five specialist schools and three academies. The following is a checklist for the effective use of ICT in schools. Head teachers may

find it useful to do a self-evaluation using this checklist. Wireless technology. Is your school equipped with wireless technology rather than relying

on the need to maintain expensive cable and individual power points to access the internet? The huge advantage of wireless technology is that each classroom will need only one access point (usually in the ceiling) rather than a power point and access for every child in the class. Laptops. Does every child in your school have a laptop? The cost of laptops has gone

down dramatically in recent years. With educational discounts, the typical bulk order is now £250 per battery operated laptop with all the necessary software.