Will parents have to foot the bill for ‘iPaducation’?

Iona Bain

Parents are coming under pressure to buy expensive gadgets such as the iPad to aid their children’s education, as schools struggle to fund the Scottish Government’s push for all-digital classrooms.

As the new school year begins, the average school bag now contains top-of-the-range devices worth £270, more than twice the value seen last year. The research from comparison site Uswitch also found a quarter of all families have spent at least £400 on technology, while half of all parents have been compelled to buy new gadgets specifically for this school term, typically worth £134.

It follows separate research, which found that one in four parents of children at primary school admit to buying a computer to help with homework, rising to half of all households when children reach secondary school. According to retailer Laptopsdirect, more than 60 per cent of families say technology costs have been a “financial burden” while half of those surveyed said they had spent more than they could afford.

The Scottish Government has been a strong advocate of digital learning, establishing a national intranet services for schools – Glow – and helping at least 10 local authorities to lend free iPads to pupils.

But in the future, it may be parents – not schools – who will have to foot the bill for the digital revolution in schools. Councils such as Argyle & Bute, Highland and South Lanarkshire have piloted a “bring your own device” scheme, which sees pupils use their own tablets in the classroom.

Rob Hilborn, head of strategy at comparison site Broadband Genie, confirmed that many schools now require kids to have iPads, or at least access to a computer outside school time, and that this can put “a great deal of pressure” on parents.

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