The rollout of more than 50,000 iPads has begun in Glasgow, thanks to a multi-million-pound deal that will result in all the authority’s primary and secondary teachers receiving one of the devices.
The iPad initiative, which is being described as the biggest Apple education project in Europe, is part of a seven-year deal between Glasgow City Council and Canadian IT firm CGI. The entire deal is worth in excess of £300 million.
There is some scepticism about the impact of tablet computers on learning, particularly if the distribution of new devices in schools is not matched by changes in teaching practice. Today's announcement attracted some criticism online that pointed to problems with mass rollouts in schools in the past.
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But Glasgow is convinced of the merit of providing 52,000 iPads to the city’s schools by 2021, with the council estimating that almost 70,000 pupils will benefit.
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Pupils from P6 to S6 will receive their own iPad, while there will be access to one iPad per five children in the city’s nurseries and in P1 to P5. There will also be 4,900 iPads handed out to teachers.
The deal includes provision of a core suite of education apps and CGI is also working to bring in stronger networks into schools, including faster broadband speeds and wi-fi in every classroom.
So far, eight school learning communities with more than 2,000 staff have been involved, and S2-3 pupils at St Thomas Aquinas Secondary have been getting to grips with their devices since before the summer.
Now, the rollout across all year groups will begin. Ultimately, the deal will deliver 47,100 student iPads and 4,900 teacher iPads.
Chris Cunningham, Glasgow City Council’s convener for education, skills and early years, said the rollout would provide “an amazing opportunity” to digitally enhance learning and teaching.
He added: “We’ve had really positive feedback from the teachers who already have their devices with some brilliant examples of good practice and shared learning across the city.
“We want our children and young people to be equipped with the skills that will make them shine as digital citizens both now and later in their working lives.
“We are aware that 90 per cent of jobs in Scotland involve digital work and so our pupils will be well equipped for the workplace."
Mr Cunningham added: “I know that this project will result in raising attainment and achievement in every one of our schools and nurseries.
“This is the biggest Apple education initiative in Europe and I’m delighted that Glasgow is once again leading the way in innovative practices.”
All parents and carers in Glasgow will be invited to attend information sessions at their child’s school before the rollout, including a chance to learn about the "home-school agreement".
This is a set of guidelines about helping to keep young people safe online and about the need to look after the new equipment.