About 40,000 devices will be deployed by the end of 2022 in partnership between local authority and tech firm
School pupils in Edinburgh are to start receiving free iPads under a deal signed between the local council and technology company CGI.
Almost 40,000 iPads are being handed to pupils between P6 and S6 – equating to year 6 to 13 in England and Wales – while additional wireless access points are being installed in schools and group iPads are being made available for children in P1 to P5.
Pupils at the city’s St Augustine’s Roman Catholic and Gracemount High Schools were among the first to receive a device with the £17.6 million project due to roll out to all youngsters by the end of this year.
The City of Edinburgh Council’s education convener, Ian Perry, said the project is about “both investing in our children and young people and our teachers to maximise the exciting learning opportunities in Scotland’s capital city”.
“We’ve committed £17.5m from our budget so pupils from P6 to S6 can have their own devices and have equal access to learning,” he said. “This programme opens up the opportunity for pupils to learn in new and exciting ways, brings with it a raft of wider benefits including extra support and professional development opportunities for teachers and is expanding WiFi to provide fast and reliable internet access in every school.”
Tara McGeehan, president of CGI in the UK and Australia, said the council’s Empowered Learning programme “provides a learning environment that’s engaging and inspirational”.
“It directly tackles the attainment gap and recognises the key role of educators in delivering a digital classroom,” she said. “Through Empowered Learning, educators can create and tailor lessons to personalise learning, and access new ways of bringing learning to life.”
A similar scheme has been in place in Glasgow since 2019, when the city’s local authority also entered into a partnership with CGI.
As is the case in Edinburgh, the Glasgow scheme has handed free iPads to pupils between P6 and S6 while those younger than that are able to share one between five in the classroom.
Ahead of last year’s Scottish Government election, deputy first minister John Swinney pledged that every school pupil in Scotland would be given a free laptop or tablet in a bid to end what he termed the “digital divide” between the wealthiest and poorest pupils.
Earlier this month it was reported that the £350m scheme had faltered due to a shortage of devices. A government spokeswoman said at the time that “every school-aged child in Scotland [would have] access to an appropriate digital device and connectivity to support their learning” by the end of the current parliamentary term.
“Discussions with local government are under way to deliver this ambitious and key commitment,” she added.