Schools should provide free iPads to reduce the “digital divide” between rich and poor pupils, according to Christine Blower. This is from the Telegraph…
All children should be issued with tablet computers to stop young people from deprived backgrounds missing out on the latest technology in lessons, it was claimed.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said some schools were fuelling social class divisions by asking families to pay between £200 and £300 for high-tech devices to improve children’s education.
iPads should be given free to pupils – and maintained by school engineers – to make sure all children have the same opportunities without the “stigma” of coming from a poor family, she said.
The comments were made despite a squeeze on school budgets during the economic downturn.
It came after it emerged that a growing number of families were being asked to buy tablet computers for use in schools.
Hove Park School in Hove, East Sussex, has provided parents with three options – send children to lessons with their own device, rent from the school at a cost of £12.40 a month or buy one for between £209 and £300.
Others such as Honywood Community Science School, Essex, have provided iPads free of charge but asked parents to contribute towards insurance.
Miss Blower said pupils risked being excluded from taking part in lessons if their family could not afford an iPad, which typically cost at least £269, suggesting that schools themselves should bear the expense.
“Schools need to be aware that initiatives which seem on the surface to be logical and progressive can leave many pupils behind,” she said.
“Often, young people will be reluctant to let their school or classmates know that they cannot afford either a computer at home or to lease one from the school.
“If such items are given free of charge to all pupils and are maintained and repaired by the school then that would be a one way of ensuring all pupils have the same access and equal opportunities without stigma.
“Education must remain a good for all and must be accessible to all; if not, huge swathes of the student population will feel disconnected from school. This will benefit no one.”
Do pupils actually need to have their own tablet, or do they just need to have some access to one to understand how they work? If they all need a tablet, what about a smart phone? And a laptop? And a set of drums etc etc. Or is an iPad now essential for education? Please let us know what you think in the comments or on twitter…