Digital divide could see poorer pupils left behind at school

The children of parents who cannot afford to fork out for a tablet computer could fall behind at school because of the 'digital divide', the National Union of Teachers has warned.

Parents asked to buy iPads for classroom learning

Pic: Getty

More and more schools are asking mums and dads to equip their kids with iPads or other tablets, putting pressure on those who are already struggling financially. Those that simply cannot afford to buy or rent the devices from the school risk having their children miss out in the classroom.

A recent survey by insurance provider Aviva found that parents are already spending thousands of pounds on their children's school needs, with an average of £132 a year spent on technology.

And now many schools are asking for parents to purchase a pricey tablet computer to help boost their children's learning.

According to the Daily Mail, parents of kids attending Hove Park School in East Sussex have been given three options by which to buy an iPad as part of the school's "learning transformation" - either purchase one themselves, buy a discounted one from the school for between £209 and £300, or rent a tablet at £12.40 a month.

Despite complaints from parents, headteacher Derek Trimmer said that pupils need to "engage with future employers as fully independent learners confident in their use of modern technologies".

A survey of more than 100 pupils by Brighton and Hove Council found that the proportion of school children who rated their lessons good or better had almost trebled to 87 per cent since the introduction of tablet computers to the classroom.

But Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, told The Observer that the gap between children from poorer families and their more affluent counterparts would be "exacerbated" because of the digital divide.

She said: "Having to buy iPads or tablets outright, or pay instalments to the school, may well be the final straw for families on stretched budgets."

What do you think? Is it unfair to ask parents to pay for tablet computers for the classroom? Leave your comments below...