Computer manufacturers Tiny and Time announced today that they have been selected for the second stage of the Becta- (British Education, Communications and Technology agency) accredited Computers for Teachers programme.

Under the scheme, which will be launched on Tuesday, teachers who attend an ICT (information and communications technology) course will be eligible for government subsidies of 50 percent towards the cost of a new computer. The maximum subsidy will be £500.

"We recognise the increasing importance a computer in the home holds for a teacher. Even with a subsidy, a computer is still a considerable outlay, which is why we are giving teachers this added value," said Martin Brefitt, Tiny's sales director.

The first stage of the scheme was launched last year and proved extremely successful for all those involved. Time says 30 percent of its overall sales resulted from the scheme.

"The new scheme will be running until March 2002, giving more teachers the opportunity to participate," said a spokesperson at Tiny.

A fixed budget of £20m has been set aside by the government for the scheme. This means a limited number of teachers – around 100,000 – will be able to take advantage of the subsidies. The PC subsidies will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

"Subsidies for individual teachers is a very positive way to improve their confidence and competence using ICT," said a spokesperson at computer advisory association, NAACE.

Along with the Department of Education and Employment, the NAACE is examining ways in which the scheme can be extended to more teachers.

The Technology Colleges Trust has set up a rival initiative for teachers within TCT-affiliated schools who may not qualify for the Becta scheme. It leases laptops for £8 a month.

"If the scheme is a success we will look at ways of opening it up to all teachers in all schools," said a TCT spokesperson.

Becta says the third stage of the Computers for Teachers scheme is expected to focus on schools rather than teachers themselves.