Oswestry pupils swap notebooks for netbooks



FROM September, new pupils at Oswestry's Marches School will become the first in the county to each be issued their own laptop computer.

Parents have been asked to opt into the scheme, understood to be the first of it's kind among Shropshire's state schools, providing each new Year 7 student with their own mini-laptop for use in lessons and at home.

"We see this as an affordable way for every child to have use of their own mini-laptop," said Marches Business Manager Sarah Davies, "We first looked into the idea two years ago. At that time we didn't feel the technology was quite there, but now they are cheaper and have longer batteries."

The scheme will cost £10 a month over three years for which pupils will receive the laptop, as well as insurance and IT support: "We have a bank of spare machines, so if one breaks students can use a spare while it is fixed."

Consultation has attracted overwhelming support from parents, with the school already coming under pressure to extend the scheme to current students:

"There will always be a year group who just miss out," admitted Mrs Davies,

"At some point you have to just bite into the cycle and begin, but we are looking into it."

Within the school the laptops will access the Marches' own wireless network, governed by the same rules and restrictions as any school computer. Beyond the school gates however, it will be up to parents to set appropriate limits:

For reasons such as insurance pupil's own laptops will not be able to be used in school, but this is expected to be less of an issue in future years as parents take advantage of the scheme. Mrs Davies says by spreading the £350 cost over three years they hope to have made it affordable, but add that for anyone unable to afford the scheme, computers will always be available within school.

"They do not replace the need to ensure students have essential literacy and numeracy skills and can achieve at the highest levels in written exams."

An open drop in event is being held at the school on June 17, from 3pm-7pm

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