Chip maker Intel gave itself a pat on the back today after donating 220 of its Centrino-powered notebooks to students at the Bexley Business Academy.

The learning centre was set up by 3E Enterprise in September 02 to tackle the growing problem of GCSE failure in the area. Bexley, in south-east London, is one of the most deprived catchments in the capital with some of the worst pass rates in the country.

Since the business school opened, pass rates have increased almost sevenfold. Now 20 percent of students gain four or more GCSEs, as opposed to just three percent a year ago, and Intel hopes the availability of its Centrino wireless notebooks will push this figure to 90 percent.

"For underachieving students in deprived urban areas, wireless technology is a tremendous learning tool. For them it is a new and exciting resource that fosters a stronger interest in learning," said Nick Lamb, ICT consultant at 3E Enterprise.

"With the notebook's ability to take advantage of the fast growing number of wireless hotspots, we can expect a learning network far beyond the confines of Bexley," he added.

Students will be able to work remotely, whether at home or from their local coffee shop, using Intel's notebooks to access the internet and school networks wirelessly. The extended battery power provided by the Centrino chip also means the laptops can run all day without needing a recharge.