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Laptop city puts the e in learning

Edinburgh is sticking to its pledge to give every pupil from P5 up access to a laptop computer, which it says will be a UK first.

Ewan Aitken, the city's executive member for children and families, acknowledged this week that the initiative, costed two years ago at more than pound;17 million, carried "huge risks". But, Mr Aitken declared, it would be an even greater risk not to do it.

Speaking at a two-day ICT seminar and exhibition run by the authority, he revealed that he hoped by the autumn to establish a project team, involving the Scottish Executive, Learning and Teaching Scotland and the three other Lothian councils (East Lothian, West Lothian and Midlothian).

Mr Aitken also disclosed that he has held talks with business leaders who are keen to invest in the project. "They understand that this is the best way they will achieve the creative, confident communicators they need as future employees," he said.

The plan envisages setting up an e-learning foundation to attract contributions from businesses and parents.

Edinburgh's move has been prompted by what Mr Aitken described as a "truly inspirational" visit two years ago to Maine in the United States which has pioneered the use of personal laptops. Sue Gendron, commissioner for education in Maine, told the conference that the emphasis was on improving learning, not the technology.

There had already been significant benefits for schools.

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