One third of Glasgow pupils in need missing out on online learning

By Catherine Hunter

Local Democracy Reporter

One third of Glasgow pupils in need missing out on online learning

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MORE than one third of primary 1-6 pupils in Glasgow identified as needing a digital device for home learning still don't have access to one.

At least 1000 families who are entitled to a laptop or iPad throughout the city are still unable to access their education via the internet using their own or shared equipment.

In July last year, the Scottish Government announced that they were offering a one-year grant to local authorities to help tackle the digital exclusion of children and young people across Scotland.

Glasgow City Council’s education services submitted a bid for the grant funding and were subsequently awarded £3.1 million allowing them to purchase 7240 iPads and Chromebooks and 4224 internet connectivity devices in the first phase of its role out.

During the education committee last week, a council officer confirmed: “In terms of the criteria for the assimilation of the equipment, we based it on the needs of the young people across the city.

“In terms of iPads and Chromebooks, as part of the connected learning programme, all children in secondary schools and additional support for learning schools and primary 7 already have them.

“We gave Chromebooks and iPads to p1-p6 pupils as part of this grant as we wanted to target those children who needed it and worked with schools to identify those who needed a device.

“For that we were able to provide 65% of those children who needed a device with one. We also worked with children who didn’t have access to the internet and meet 100% of the demand for internet connectivity.

“We were able to provide a 12-month contract to provide pupils with access to the internet.”

Glasgow’s education services will now spend £1m from this funding package on iPads to go those children who do not yet have access or sole access to device at home to support their learning.

The education service has also been given two donations of £35,000 and £10,000 to help purchase additional devices.

This will help the city council to buy 2700 iPads, 150 Chromebooks, over 1000 MiFi devices with one-year unlimited internet access.

Equipment will begin to be provided to children who need them this week.

Following the meeting Labour’s education spokeswoman Aileen McKenzie said: “Not all remote learning has to be done on a digital device however in this day and age it is not acceptable that 35% of Glasgow primary school children identified as needing one by all 140 primary schools, are without access to a digital device and access to the internet to aid them with their learning.

“Digital exclusion is another facet of the deep inequalities which run through the social fabric of Glasgow. The Scottish Government made the decision to move children to remote learning therefore they have a responsibility to properly fund or provide equipment for our children to do so instead of looking to cash strapped councils to stump up the money. Digital exclusion was a problem before Coronavirus, but the pandemic has only compounded that.”