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Tomorrow's World today

Len Tingle | 17:35 UK time, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

One of the easiest ways of checking just how far schools have changed over the past couple of decades is to do what I did this week and visit one.

Allerton High School in North Leeds invited me along to talk to its sixth form media studies class.

Allerton is one of those local state schools that has been totally rebuilt and re-equipped with every kind of technological gizmo.

What is more they know how to use them. Or, at least, the students do.

Virtually the entire class came to the aid of the old duffer who did not know how to plug his laptop into the school's all-singing-all-dancing overhead projection system.

Teacher Russell Bathgate and I were clearly outclassed by the technological expertise of the 16 and 17-year-olds (all pictured below).

Pupils with len Tingle

Then came a session where I was able to play clips from the BBC Politics Show and Look North on a giant screen at the touch of a button. All this in a bright and spacious classroom.

Amazing when I think back to my school days in the 60s and early 70s when a black and white television set was wheeled in a couple of times a month for a "school's programme".

It took so long to warm up that we usually missed the first 10 minutes of the broadcast.

The idea of catching it again on something like the BBC iPlayer was something that only Tomorrow's World* could have envisioned.

They can do that now with ease at Allerton High.

The economics of rebuilding and re-equipping schools like Allerton High has been a political hot potato for more than a decade.

Should the tax payer have stumped up the cost directly instead of a private developer footing the bill and "leasing back" the school to the local education authority for the next 25 years?

Tomorrow's World TV programme

That issue will be a legitimate political dispute in the coming general election and probably for many more to come.

But from my visit one thing seems clear however we finish up paying for schools like Allerton High.

Life in the classroom has certainly changed for the better.

* "Tomorrow's World"- a popular 1970s BBC television programme showing what life would be like in the 21st Century.

I am still waiting for the personal hovercraft.

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