THOUSANDS of pupils have been left unable to use the internet and online learning tools after problems with a new IT technology..

Many Blackburn with Darwen high schools have been without basic IT systems such as email for months and one school, Newfield Special School, has been unable to access any e-learning facilities since September.

Hemel Hempstead-based technology provider Northgate was contracted to supply some of the most innovative technology to the borough’s schools.

Blackburn with Darwen Council and it partner in the scheme, Bolton Council, have put millions of pounds into the new system.

Northgate has carried out tests to rectify the problems.

In a move to appease St Wilfrid’s High CofE School, one of the worst affected, Northgate has given the school free goods and services.

A council report said: “Despite a significant amount of support and challenge being provided by both council and Local Education Partnership to Northgate the implementation of both core and full service did not go as well as it should have."

Both councils are jointly pursuing compensation and have submitted a case to the Department for Education.

The council provided a statement from Coun Maureen Bateson, Blackburn with Darwen's executive member for children's services which it said was from both itself and Northgate.

However, it did not address when the system will be working, how much it had cost or exactly how many schools or services had been affected.

It read: "It is unacceptable that schools have been facing these problems.

"When any major new systems are put in place there can often be teething problems. However, our main priority is to ensure students and staff have working access to a high quality ICT service.

"I will ensure the council continues to make the relevant representations through its partners to ensure any outstanding problems are addressed with the ICT providers, Northgate as a matter of priority."

Northgate was given a contract worth £41.3 million to put IT equipment in nine Blackburn schools and 15 Bolton schools that were to be revamped under the Building Schools for the Future scheme, which was later scaled back by the government.