Every pupil to get laptop or tablet, says Swinney

Opposition politicians say policy should have been announced far earlier in the Covid pandemic

Tes Reporter

Every pupil to get laptop or tablet, says Swinney

Every pupil in Scotland will be given a laptop or tablet by the Scottish government if the SNP is re-elected to power in May, education secretary and deputy first minister John Swinney has said.

Mr Swinney outlined details of the £350 million policy commitment at a special SNP campaign conference.

He said: “If we are re-elected in May, the SNP will roll out a new programme to deliver into the hands of every school child in Scotland a laptop, Chromebook or tablet to use in school and at home.

“It will come with a free internet connection and full technical support. It will be updated when necessary, replaced when needed and upgraded as technology improves.”

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Mr Swinney said the coronavirus pandemic has shown that such devices are “no longer luxuries” and are instead “the basic building blocks of a good education”.

He stated: “A child cannot do their homework on mum’s or dad’s phone. And they cannot study online if they can’t connect to the internet.

“Just as in my day, the teacher handed out a jotter to all, so in this internet age, we will hand each child the device they need to learn and prosper.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “This is just the latest example of the SNP hiding its atrocious record in office by trotting out policies that they have failed to execute or that they have no plan to implement.

“The facts speak for themselves – under the SNP, the digital divide between the wealthiest and the poorest has grown.”

Scottish Conservative education spokeperson Jamie Greene said: “The SNP left too many pupils without access to vital devices for learning at home over the last year.

“They ignored our calls for more support for online learning for months but it seems that, now an election campaign is under way, they are willing to admit they didn’t do enough.”

During his speech, Mr Swinney went on to attack the Westminster government after it raised concerns that the Scottish Parliament may have exceeded its powers when passing legislation to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law.

The Bill was passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament, with Scottish secretary Alister Jack saying afterwards that there was “doubt about the competence of specific provisions in the Bill”.

Mr Swinney said: “Scotland unanimously wants to protect the rights of children – our own children – and Westminster says that we are not allowed.

“That is not just morally repugnant – it is deeply menacing.”

He added: “If the UK Tory government wants to target the rights of Scottish children, they had better be ready for us.

“We are unanimous. We are determined. And – if need be – we will see the UK Tory government in court.”

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