back to article UK schools chief begs for Home Access scheme cash

The UK government has pleaded with the IT industry to help breathe some life into its Home Access programme. It wants key players in the tech world to cough up cash towards ensuring all school children in England aged five to 19 have a computer and internet access in their homes. Schools minister Jim Knight, who was speaking at …

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Alert

All children over 5?

Yeah, my 5-year-old daughter really would be suffering from exclusion if we weren't able to download pictures of Dora the Explorer for her to colour in. Better spend some taxpayers' money now.

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This just stinks.

The government would save a lot more money if they just ditched Micro$oft and moved all the schools on to open source software.

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Anonymous Coward

Well

In before mindless Linux zealots inform us that freedom of choice means "freedom to choose linux"

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Anonymous Coward

I know you're skint and sacking people left right and centre...

...but please, give us some money!

Even the homeless seem to have caught on faster!

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Happy

its not the dora stuff

its the ability to naturally intergrate yourself with a computer and the way it works ..

Damn my son at 1.7 months old already understands how winamp works and where to turn it up !!

Tending to scare the bejeezus out of the missus and me.

I think this is a great Idea although somewhat hard to implement.

As for open source i aint gonna go near that argument ;)

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Gates Horns

Microsoft donates...

Real money, or their software notionally valued at full list price?

Call me a cynic but....

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ffs

Education begins with strong parental support and a good buy in from the kids. No matter how many computers you hand out, we won't suddenly become a high tech economy fully staffed with intelligent and qualified people when the benefits track is more appealing to the average spotty teenager. Teenagers are not that good at making long term decisions and the current generation of parents is not all that good at taking responsibility for making the right decisions for their kids. Waste of MY money.

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Unhappy

usual suspects

At a guess, it will be the usual hard won deal where the civil servants have managed to get an equipment and support deal at only three times the cost of a lease system from any corporate supplier. Oh look.. RM are on the list of recognized suppliers.

Just how difficult would it be to set up a localised recycling scheme that would give each kid/family a donated serviceable PC, an internet connection, and a support hotline or place to bring the PC to fix when it goes down. Companies could even get a warm fuzzy advertising aspect with sponsorship and their logo on the system unit.

Linux/Windows, not that important. Although if saving money is a priority, why bother with a Windows license when the Linux one is free. And what broadband supplier doesn't supply a router with Ethernet these days.

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Joke

Dora the explorer

By the time the Australian government, zanu labour and the IWF have finished, all we'll able to do with the free laptop is print out and colour in dora pictures...

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Unhappy

SCHOOL children?

So 19 year-olds are school children now???

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Flame

Thank the lord...

...that my kids are educated in Scotland, which hopefully will be free from this 'initiative'. Can anyone tell me anyway that getting companies to pay for this won't equate to 'you put some money in, and we'll make sure that you get some mega-buck contracts"?

Worst still (and I'm not blaming MS - good on them for stepping up to the plate, even if their motives aren't necessarily whiter than white), not only does this put question marks over the objectivity of HMG, but presumably also denies the schools a choice.

Sounds like another quick bit of newspaper headline hunting by the minister concerned. Hopefully, he'll get shuffled out before this does too much damage.

@Well - "In before mindless Linux zealots inform us that freedom of choice means "freedom to choose linux"" ... or not as the case may be. I would assume that most parents and taxpayers would just want the best for their kids and the best value for their tax money (respectively). Linux (and other Open Source) may be the best answer, or maybe something from Redmond might be - ffs give the schools the ability to choose. After all, businesses aren't all Windows, so why limit the kiddies to this. Heck, judging on the kids I've seen in action the next generation seem to be quite happy to select the best tool for the job.

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Gates Halo

Linux zealots....

.... Should remember that slick Billy Gates is one of the worlds largest donators to charity. Before the shouts of 'he can afford to', there is no such thing as a free lunch. He can afford to because he made a successful product. OSS is all very nice, but it's built on unfunded effort, with a few people making money flogging distris. So ask yourself, why isn't Red Hat, Novell or Ubuntu stepping up to the plate. Computers at hoe are more than the OS, and M$ are at least putting money where there mouth is.

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Linux

Yes Please!

My son likes my Aspire One, so perhaps we'll have one of those, especially if M$ are paying (Linux OS version, naturally, got to be robust with no hard disk). He figured out how to type in www.bionicles.com yesterday so he's obviously old enough to have one of his own. (Must make sure he's using my local proxy server though.)

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Paris Hilton

@Porter

For Flips sake! Church of the blessed Pingu strikes again! Yes it's obvious to use open source software to educate our children ready for when they leave school and use... oh hang on. It all falls down a little bit there doesn't it?

"Open source software is only free if you time is worth nothing", stop punting the (false) party line about how much money is saved by using open source software.

* Paris as she is as clueless as the Pingu-heads are about the real world.

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Happy

@Lionel Baden

Your son is 1.7 months old? Wot an odd way of measuring time. It is of course 51 days for a 30 day month but we haven't had one of those recently. It could be 50.202003 days if you are using lunar months but that gets a bit silly with all those micro seconds and so on.

Being 0.57 centuries old, the memory goes a bit, but I am sure that at that age my daughter would have eaten a mouse rather than used it for anything useful.

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Gates Horns

Linux zealots - not!

Actually I don't use Linux except for web hosting. But we're only getting back from M$ a fraction of what we've paid to them already. We don't need to teach kids today's applications which will be old hat (if not red hat) by the time they leave school. Once upon a time the UK guvvermint actually supported the British computer industry but the current adminisphere has all but destroyed it.

Using computers to teach kids is not the same as teaching kids to use computers.

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@AC 21:14

Chicken and egg - if everyone learned using Open Office and other open-source software rather than the M$ equivalents, it would mean that in a few years' time the demand from industry would be for that open-source software because that's what everyone knows how to use. Sticking to the "must teach MS Office because that's what everyone uses" means that we're forever stuck with it. Teaching people how to use a computer means they're better equipped to learn new packages faster if they need to.

Yes, there's a time (=money) cost associated with open-source software, time to learn it, time to upgrade it, time to support it, same as with M$ stuff, but starting from the same place it's not going to be fundamentally different apart from paying (or licensing, if they have their way) M$ for their software and you get a better peer-reviewed system from it, plus the freedom to switch to an alternative package that supports the same open standards if your needs change.

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Linux

RE Linux and education

This idea that Linux is useless for IT education is a load of toss.

When I went through school, we had a Mac network. I'm currently a Windows and *nix sysadmin [of sorts, arf]. I didn't learn 'how to use office' in school though - we were taught memory addressing, hardware abstraction theory and general IT background and knowledge along with generalised Office-esque packages [Clarisworks as it happens] - we could have been taught that on a BBC Micro [Folio, anyone - same theory in terms of layout and functionality, just a slightly different way of changing the font/layout - shortcuts rather than mouse actions] and still got the same standard of knowledge out of it with regards as to how to use a word processor and how to tell whether a problem was hardware or software based.

So would all the anti-NonMS-zealots please shuddup-aya-face - you can learn how to use a computer on *any* platform as the fundamentals of WIMP interface [bet you don't know what that is either] are the same across any GUI based platform.

The issue isn't the platform, it's the coursework itself, which these days isn't computing - it's little more than secretarial studies with a bit of basic DB, music and video editing work thrown in.

Steven R

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What about Ebay!!...

Screw the debate about M$ or Linux what about the prospect of the computers ending up on Ebay to fund some Chav's parents cig habit?

How much is it going to cost to replace all the systems that were 'stolen' as soon as they got home?

Have they got a plan in place to combat the flood of knocked off machines that will appear on the auction site of your choice?

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Linux

Why don't Nu Lab and M$ just merge?

It would save them a lot of money - they wouldn't have to travel to meetings. M$ have been behind so many of Nu Lab's failed IT schemes (it was Billy wot told Tony to do the NHS IT programme for example) that I think it's time they started taking full credit.

Is M$ running Drooper and Mandy's new blog by the way? It looks rubbish enough for that to be the case.

Ah well, if only decent software stopped property crashes, I might move to Spain. Getting to be wall to wall Linux in schools there. Cost: 0

Billy a philanthropist by the way? Sure, have you never heard of fumigating your fortune? It's what you do after you've ripped the rest of the world off for a few decades.

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when i was at school

we had a network of Archimedes computers, i'd never even seen a windows pc before i was 16/17*. it didn't make a difference as i was taught how to use applications rather than specific software.

it's not about the software or the OS, its about the way it's taught. if you're taught how to use a word processor, it doesn't matter which one you actually end up using, but if you're taught how to use word, you have to use word or spend time figuring out the alternative.

*yes i really did get through 17 years without a computer at home, or any access to the internet and i was still educated in computing specific courses.

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Anonymous Coward

Free laptops when purchasing a Broadband access

Why not utilise the standard offers at the main PC outlets? Free laptop with a 2 year access deal I think. This would seem cheaper than specifying hardware and a software build and arranging support + support on getting connected. The LAs will struggle with any ongoing support. Central purchasing power might reduce cost further.

Unemployed benefit entitled Mum or Dad gets given a Home access voucher and goes and sorts themselves out in PC World. After sale support is all packaged in. Bill goes central for two years.

These shops act as collection points for old computers. It may be possible to use re-cycled devices.

This is too simple, it must be wrong!

Medium term we will need to create a Uinversal Service Fund for Broadband anyway, probably pop out of the Digital Britain report.

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Gates Horns

This is twoddle, really, isn't it?

one tenth of the money spent on rescuing dodgy banks could have given every schoolkid a linux laptop and a vista one, and a whole bunch of connectivity. And had enough cash left over to employ people in schools who actually know what IT is all about, and probably a pretty decent party as well.

Instead we let M$ feed the kids.

Mindless.

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Jay
IT Angle

Another "in my day" comment

Let's see, in primary school I used the trusty BBC Model B and had a Spectrum + at home. Secondary school was more BBC Model B/Master with some Archimedies near the end and an Amiga at home. At university it was all Mac and Sparc for two years and it wasn't really until my year out that I had to fiddle with PCs and such Microsoft producs like Windows and Office. That then kicked off a run of PCs (and the odd Sparc) until I got a Mac before Xmas.

I'm now a UNIX sys admin, so like Steven R above I go by it's what you take away from the learning experience not which hardware/software combo you do it on. Or I'd like to think so...

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Flame

What a waste of money.

Why not spend the money on some education instead? Vocational training in computer applications can come later when the little darlings can actually read, write and add two and two.

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