SNP accused of lack of ambition over delivery of laptops to pupils

The Scottish Government has been accused of desperation for announcing it has started talks with councils to deliver laptops and tablets to every school pupil, with the Conservatives claiming ministers failed to ensure remote access to lessons during Covid school closures for children, resulting in a widening of disadvantage.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has confirmed discussions with local government are now underway to deliver the “ambitious commitment”, which will give 700,000 children across Scotland access to digital technology.

Ms Somerville said this was proof the government was delivering on an election commitment in the first 100 days of office.

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However Scottish Conservative education spokesman, Oliver Mundell, said, that the announcement of talks with local authorities was “desperate stuff”.

The Scottish Government has been accused of failing to meet a pledge to provide pupils with laptops.

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He added: “Nicola Sturgeon made a huge song and dance about promising free laptops and devices to pupils during the election.

“It now appears these plans have barely got off the starting line. The SNP left thousands of pupils without access to devices during remote learning but now they have the cheek to pat themselves on the back for merely entering discussions with councils.

“That is something ministers should be doing every day without feeling the need to promote the news.

“The attainment gap is widening on the SNP’s watch and the Education Secretary has no idea when it will be closed. If pupils are to ever receive these devices, we need to see the SNP being more ambitious and fully funding our councils to deliver them. Otherwise more and more disadvantaged pupils will be left behind as we aim to recover from the pandemic.”

The Scottish Government said that along with providing laptops to every school pupil by the end of this Parliament and “where necessary an internet connection”, it was also considering “how to deliver consistent digital infrastructure across Scotland’s 2,500 school buildings”.

Ms Somerville said: “Every child has the right to an education and we believe that means an education supported and enhanced by technology. This as a vital aspect of an education system in the digital age which was clearly demonstrated by the pandemic.

“This is a hugely ambitious programme of work that will build on efforts to tackle digital inclusion during the pandemic. These early talks with Scottish councils are a positive step towards delivering this commitment.”

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