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Councillors call meeting over Prince Henry's iPad scheme
12:38pm Friday 10th January 2014 in Local news
Otley's three ward councillors have added their voices to growing concerns over a school's 'buy an iPad' scheme.
A public meeting*, organised by the Town Council and parents, will be held next Monday to discuss Prince Henry's Grammar School's 1:1 iPad proposal.
The school believes providing an iPad for every Key Stage 3 student - with parents contributing £360, spread over three years, per child - would boost learning and attainment.
But some parents have questioned the educational benefits of the scheme and the implications for comprehensive education of asking parents to financially contribute to school equipment. They have also questioned why iPads, rather than other makes of tablet, have been chosen.
Now Councillors Colin Campbell, Sandy Lay and Ryk Downes (all Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) have echoed their and the town council's concerns by writing to headteacher Janet Sheriff.
Their letter says: "The principle of education in Britain is that it has been provided freely and equally.
"Residents who have contacted us feel that with the policy you propose this principle is being eroded.
"We appreciate that the school has made an educational decision with regard to the effectiveness of the iPad but we feel we must raise the concerns expressed by residents.
"Firstly, the model of iPad proposed been superseded by several newer models. There must be some concern that support for this old model will not be available by the end of the contract period.
Secondly, the cost - which seems to be high in relation to the same model currently being offered for sale in major stores.
"Thirdly, the divisive nature for those parents who can and cannot afford to join the scheme.
"Given that the school believe the iPad scheme will be an integral part of young people's learning (in the same way that text books are), we would ask that you look at the proposals again and perhaps use other funding sources, such as the pupil premium, to subsidise the scheme to make it more easily accessible and more equitable."
Prince Henry's, which has held three consultation events about the proposal, points out that it will only proceed if an "overwhelming majority" of parents supports it.
*The meeting takes place at Weston Lane Social Club at 7pm on Monday, January 13.
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