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Parents to confront Prince Henry's School governors over iPads
A parental delegation will confront school governors in Otley over ongoing concerns about a 'buy an iPad' scheme.
The move follows a public meeting where parents repeated claims about feeling "emotionally blackmailed" into backing the proposal.
A further meeting between the headteacher of Prince Henry's Grammar School, Janet Sheriff, and Town Councillor Carl Morris (Lab, Ashfield) took place yesterday to try to agree on a way forward.
Otley Town Council has echoed concerns expressed about the iPad scheme – concerning its cost, educational value and impact on the principle of free education – and is asking the school to think again.
The initiative, which Prince Henry's insists would boost learning and not exclude any pupil due to financial difficulties, would involve parents making a £10 a month (per child) contribution towards the cost for three years.
But many of the 60-plus people who attended Monday's meeting questioned the claimed educational benefits, the need for parents to pay, and why the iPad had been chosen over more attractive alternatives.
Leonie Sharp, who chaired the meeting, said: "The jury is out on the scheme for students – my views are clear, I don't think parents should pay for what is on trial.
"If educationalists think this is good for children's education then as a parent I fully support this, but in a state education system the state should fund it.
"It was an excellent turnout, given it was a cold and damp night.
“We’ve gathered a long list of questions to be asked of the senior management team and 14 parents have agreed to form a separate delegation asking for a meeting with the governors.
“If the school says that more than 90 per cent of parents or carers, out of 600, are needed for the scheme to go ahead then the meeting had more than ten per cent – all voicing opposition and concern.”
Prince Henry’s, however, points out that it has held three consultation events and that the iPad scheme is already running successfully in other local schools.
Ms Sheriff said: “Most of our parents and carers have now returned their forms. This means that school leaders and governors should be able to make a decision very shortly about whether or not to implement the iPad scheme.
“Over the last few weeks it has been encouraging to see that the vast majority of our parents (and members of the wider community) support the scheme and recognise our ambition to provide the highest quality education for our students.”
Coun Morris, who helped organise the public meeting and met with Ms Sheriff yesterday, said: “The iPad scheme is highly controversial and it will be a total disaster if it gets rammed through against the wishes of parents.”
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