£10.5million project to give every Midlothian pupil a free device underway

Monday August 23rd 2021


From left to right in the picture are: Newbattle Depute Head Mark Davidson, School Captain Beth Aitken, School Depute Captain Iona Westaby and Education’s Digital Support Lead Colin McCabe, who is organising the roll-out of the Equipped for Learning project.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

S6 Newbattle High School pupils Beth Aitken and Iona Westaby are among the first in the county to get a free iPad or Google Chromebook as part of Midlothian Council’s £10.5 million Equipped for Learning initiative.

More than 14,000 pupils will benefit from the most comprehensive digital learning project of its kind in Scotland to date, supporting all pupils from primary one to S6 secondary pupils

Midlothian Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Councillor Jim Muirhead said he was delighted the first devices were ready to hand over. He said:

“This is a life-changing scheme, the first and most ambitious project of its kind in Scotland, which is well ahead of the Scottish Government’s recent commitment to give all school-age children a device by the end of this parliamentary session. Our initiative will make sure all of our school-age children and young people have equal access to the digital tools and skills they need to raise their attainment levels, take greater responsibility and ownership of their learning in areas including literacy and numeracy, and equip them for a positive destination such as further/higher education and the future jobs market.”

Cllr Muirhead added that making sure all pupils have a device will also help children and young people with additional support needs by giving them access to technology that can help with their different learning needs.

Early years settings will also benefit from the digital strategy as they will have shared iPads.

The roll-out programme will equip senior phase pupils (S4-S6) with new devices first, followed by additional support needs pupils (and early learning settings), S1-S3 pupils and then children in primary schools. The council aims to have all devices rolled out by early next year.

Parents and carers will be offered online information sessions about the project, including how best to support their child or young person. Further details of those will be shared in due course.

The council has also set up a website with more details of Equipped for Learning, including FAQs, at equipped.midlothian.education

Newbattle School Captain Beth, who achieved six A Band 1s in her Higher SQA results, said the devices will make a big difference to pupils’ learning. She added:

“It means that everyone has the same quality of devices and access to learning resources, so it helps makes things equal.”

Depute School Captain Iona, who also achieved six A Band 1s, said her Chromebook will get used “literally every day”, in school and out. Not only will all coursework be available along with the chance to message teachers but pupils can access revision resources and handy tools like apps to make flashcards.

Technical restrictions will in place and pupils, as part of the digital literacy curriculum, will learn how to stay safe online.

Additionally, Newbattle Community High School will continue to be the Digital Centre for Excellence in Midlothian, piloting innovation and creativity in new technologies. This investment will also make sure Midlothian’s teaching and support staff have access to world-class technology, with wider support for other Education staff, Children’s Services and Communities & Lifelong Learning.

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