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"Phones for all pupils " to close the digital gap

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"Phones for all pupils " to close the digital gap

Post  Panda on Sat 25 May - 9:47

'Phones for all pupils’ to close the digital gap

A council is considering giving children smartphones when they get to school
to end the “digital divide” between rich and poor pupils.

The Aberdeen council is spending
around £860,000 to ensure no one misses out by providing phones Photo:

By Nick Britten

7:21PM BST 24 May 2013

A ban on 24,000 pupils using their smartphones in 62 primary and secondary
schools in Aberdeen is to be lifted, with teachers instead encouraging their use
as a learning tool.

But since it was deemed unfair to those who do not have them, the council is
spending around £860,000 to ensure no one misses out by providing phones, or
access to a phone or tablet computer.

David Leng, the city’s head of schools, said: “Our view on smartphones is
that rather than being a problem we need to protect people from they could
actually be an advantage. We don’t want to get into a situation where we are
trying to ban things that you just can’t ban anyway, and not harnessing the
powerful possibilities of the smartphones.

“There have been some concerns in the past that when we do these things we
are creating a digital divide between those who have and those who don’t. We
will ensure that everyone has access to devices and they will always be
supervised. We will support and supply to those who do not have their own.”

He said that no pupil would be able to access the internet in class
unsupervised, and that access was filtered. Pupils would not be allowed to make
phone calls.

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The council is consulting on school closures and mergers and the plan has
been criticised by those who say schools need investment for building work and
basic resources.

Jennifer Stewart, Aberdeen city council’s Lib Dem education spokesman, said:
“We’re talking about a huge amount of money, considering we’ve got basic bread
and butter issues that need to be resolved. [Some] schools have poor toilet
facilities, another is excellent in terms of performance, but the buildings
aren’t great.”

She added: “There’s always a place for technology, but I think it would make
sense to address these other issues first.”

Parents took to social networking sites to criticise the plan. Charlene
McConnachie wrote: “This is another waste of tax payers money from a council who
already don’t have enough money to do things that Aberdeen actually need.”

Kelsey Stewart posted: “There are schools being shut down but they are
choosing to spend money on this. Makes a lot of sense.”
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