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"Digital divide"

Schools should provide free iPads


The comments were made despite a squeeze on school budgets during the economic downturn. It came after it emerged that a growing number of families were being asked to buy tablet computers for use in schools.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said some schools were fuelling social class divisions by asking families to pay between £200 and £300 for high-tech devices to improve children’s education.

iPads should be given free to pupils – and maintained by school engineers – to make sure all children have the same opportunities without the “stigma” of coming from a poor family, she said.

Brighton Council said Hove Park School had seen a "massive improvement" in its GCSE results last summer and received an "excellent" Ofsted report after introducing the iPads, which are not compulsory.

"Because of the size of the project, Hove Park has been able to negotiate discounts with suppliers. We welcome the fact that the business plan ensures that no child is excluded from the project through inability to pay for the equipment."

A survey carried out by the school recently showed that since iPads were introduced, 87 per cent of pupils now rate their lessons as good or better, up from 31 per cent.

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