More Investment In Technology For Region’s Schools

Over the past few months, Dumfries and Galloway council has been developing its use of technology within our schools and digital connectivity for our school network. Councillors at this week’s Education and Learning committee will be provided with an update on progress to date.

In September, Full Council agreed in principle to the associated costs to deliver the full Virtual Desktop project. The costs associated with the project will be considered as part of the budget setting process later this month.

Whilst the agreement on the finance for the full project is yet to be decided, other digital developments for our schools have been achieved:
Bandwidth Upgrade: Good progress is being made on the Rural Gigabit Project – 35 rural primary schools have now had their bandwidth upgraded to 1G.
Primary Mobile Learning Network: A site survey was completed to establish the individual school requirements to address the “blackspots” in connectivity. Orders for the equipment have been placed and received. This work is scheduled to be completed by end of March 2021

Digital Inclusion: The Scottish Government Digital Inclusion grant has delivered 290 iPads to primary children, 2390 laptops to both primary and secondary pupils, and 161 internet access devices to families with no connectivity at home. All children/young people from P6-S6 in receipt of free school meals have received a laptop to support their school work (to a maximum of 2 per household). All children in primary have retained the iPads they were given during the first lockdown in April-June 2020, and all families who received internet access during this same period have also retained this access.

Chair of the Education and Learning committee, Jeff Leaver, said “with our classrooms closed at the moment and the focus on remote learning, it has become apparent that we need to be able to provide teaching and learning both in person and virtually. We must use this current situation as a platform to build our digital offering so that we can support our teachers and pupils to be able to access learning more easily away from the classrooms. The report today shows the progress that is being made to take this forward.
Vice Chair, Ros Surtees, said “It is a priority of our council to provide the best start for every child. Having access to digital learning will enable all of our children to learn whilst in school and from their homes. The plans for the virtual school are ambitious but these plans also demonstrate how we need to invest in our digital offering, which is especially challenging in a rural area.”

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