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South London kids get Psion netBooks

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South London schoolchildren may soon have the perfect hi-tech excuse for dodging homework. Three primary schools in the Brixton area are to take part in a one-year pilot scheme to see if using Psion netBooks will improve literacy, writing and maths skills. One hundred of the 800 slimline computers have been bought by Lambeth Education Action Zone, in what is Psion's first deal in the UK education field. According to Tim Coulson, project director for Lambeth Education Action Zone, pupils will be encouraged to take the machines out of school to do homework. The advantages seen in the netBooks were their battery life – more than 8 hours, price, instant-on function, and Internet access. But Coulson said the main reason the group had chosen Psion's machine over traditional notebooks involved the safety issues of nine and ten-year-olds carrying expensive computer equipment around the streets of South London. "When you come out of Brixton tube, there are signs warning you not to talk on your mobile phone too much in that area – because it might get stolen," he said. "We want to be careful about how the children transport them – but these machines will fit easily into a school bag." Obviously there are worries that the traditional excuse of: "The dog ate it" will be replaced by: "Sorry Sir, the mugger stole by homework".

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