In 1998, the UK Government launched its ambitious National Grid for Learning (NGfL), investing £700m in connecting schools via the NGfL, and £230m on training teachers and librarians in the use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). It established the British Educational Communication and Technology Agency (Becta) to oversee the Grid and develop content for teaching and learning. The combined initiatives were relaunched in 2003 as 'ICT in Schools', spending £510m in that one year alone. A range of other ICT initiatives have been introduced including a popular Laptops for Teachers scheme, Strategic Leadership in ICT for managers, Curriculum Online to provide evaluated content, Regional Broadband access for schools, and the Testbed Project in which schools in three diverse geographical areas have been equipped to very high levels and evaluated (Ofsted 2004). Large numbers of schools and colleges have introduced ICT as some part of their approach to teaching and learning (DfES 2004). Recent reviews show that there is great progress in the introduction of hardware such as computers, interactive boards, and other digital devices, but much slower embedding of ICT in the day-to-day practices of teachers and learners (Becta 2006).
Why is ICT so important in education that it warrants such a large investment? Hawkridge (1990) identified four main reasons which are still valid: ICT is a life skill since technology is an integral part of everyday life (social); ICT is part of the working world (vocational); ICT changes the way pupils are taught (pedagogic); and ICT changes the nature of schooling (catalytic). Introducing ICT into education has, and continues to have, a major impact on teachers and what they are expected to do (Preston 2004). Developing both personal and professional skills in using ICT are now a key part of initial teacher training, with the expectation that teachers will use