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Parents to get school letters via e-mail

May 12, 2002

The days of letters from school arriving home crumpled or lying forgotten for weeks at the bottom of a bag could soon be over as the government has announced plans to send them via e-mail. The move is possible because almost all schools in England are now hooked up to the internet, as are four out of 10 households. The service will be voluntary and parents will have to agree to it in advance. But education groups have warned that many homes will have no way of taking advantage of the scheme. Education Minister John Healey said the proposal was part of the government's drive to ensure its services were available online by 2005. "Many people want to use e-mail because it is faster and more convenient than its hard copy equivalents and changes to the education law will make this a reality," he said. "Once implemented, the changes will make a real different to the way parents, schools and local education authorities can communicate with each other." The proposals have received a cautious welcome from the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations (NCPTA). Security It said many homes, particularly in poorer areas, had no way of taking part in the scheme.

It was also important to ensure people's details were secure and that others could not gain access to their e-mail addresses, said the NCPTA's Margaret Morrissey.

But many parents with e-mail access would use the scheme, she added.

She said it could take a generation before use of such a service was widespread, however.

"Not everybody is IT literate," she said.

"It may be that when youngsters in school now are parents, it's not going to be so difficult but, for many people, when you mention e-mail their eyes glaze over."

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