UK Schools Asking Parents to Foot the Bill on iPads for the Classroom

Billed as necessary for classroom progress under headings like "learning transformation," cccording to Toby Helm of The Guardian, schools in United Kingdom are asking parents to buy iPads for their children to use in class.

Buying an iPad or similar tablets costs several hundred pounds, and more schools are asking parents to bear the cost of the devices for classroom use. Families on tight budgets are worried about the new requirement, fueling fears of creating a "digital divide" in UK in education.

Schools say that accessing digital technology is important for the modern education system and that embracing the technology will save money in the long run on equipment such as traditional books.

One parent said: "I'd like to see some evidence that bringing this kind of technology into classrooms is even beneficial to how kids learn. There's an awful lot of information out there on the net that is plain wrong. I feel quite uneasy about what we might be doing to them and to teaching."

Schools such as Hove Park are offering three options to parents for an iPad. They can buy the device from the store, or spend between £200 and £300 to buy it from the school, or pay for in installments that can vary from £12 to £30 a month.

[Hove's] headteacher, Derek Trimmer, has said he expects to get complaints, but insists he wants his pupils to be able "to engage with future employers as fully independent learners confident in their use of modern technologies".

The students seem happy with the iPad announcement, but parents and teachers unions are raising concerns that it might be difficult for poor families to remain on the same plane as middle-class and wealthy families.

At the Skinners' Kent Academy in Tunbridge Wells, where parents have also been asked to contribute to the cost of iPads, one parent said she was having to pay £45 a month from her modest salary for iPads for two children. "I am cross about it because I don't think we as parents were really left with any alternative. The children are ecstatic of course, but it is a lot of money to find every month and you worry that there are people in this community who really will not be able to afford it. What will they do?"

According to a spokesman for the Department for Education, individual schools can adopt their own policies on technology and charging parents.

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