MP brands school iPad plan ‘elitist’

School wants all 250 pupils to have iPads
School wants all 250 pupils to have iPads
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An MP has taken a swipe at a primary school’s controversial iPad scheme for children, branding it “elitist.”

Nigel Evans, whose South Ribble constituency includes Lever House School in Farington near Leyland, has written to education chiefs in Lancashire expressing his concern.

Lever House Primary School in Farington

Lever House Primary School in Farington

“It is disgusting to learn that Lever House School are attempting to force hardworking parents into forking out for unnecessary technology on the deluded premise that it is somehow essential to their cognitive development,” he said in a letter to local councillor Paul Wharton.

“The scheme is elitist and fails to appreciate that most families do not have this level of disposable income to waste on frivolous expenses.”

Parents are being asked to pay up to £16.70 a month to lease an iPad for their child. The scheme could cost the family of a pupil going into Year 3 in September more than £700 over the next four years at Lever House.

Coun Wharton, who has been contacted by angry parents, described the school’s policy as “very concerning” and said: “I am calling on the authorities to scrutinise and review the scheme.”

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans

Headteacher John Hurst, who has been pioneering the scheme to start in September, left the school last week to take up a job with iPad makers Apple.

In his letter to Coun Wharton, Nigel Evans (left) said: “I was shocked and appalled upon reading details of the scheme. It will inevitably create divisions within the classroom about which child has the latest iPad.” Mr Evans has written to the school’s governors and the interim chief executive of the education authority.

Last week Julia Moore, chair of governors at Lever House Primary School, Farington, defended the scheme saying: “The school has funded the provision of iPads for every child in Year groups 3, 4 and 5 for the last 10 years. This equipment needed replacing recently as it was many years old, but unfortunately, due to our tighter budget situation, this time we weren’t in a position to be able to fund their replacement outright for our pupils.

“The school governors, headteacher and senior leaders met to consider options to deal with this situation, which included the setting up of an internal team. This team worked up alternatives to make sure that every child had access to an iPad, including a lease scheme. We were determined that this scheme should be as fair as possible, making sure that every child had access to an iPad through the various options available.

“The whole team agreed the process to take, interviewed possible providers, and decided on the final supplier of the equipment. All processes were robustly adhered to as was a strict and competitive procurement process.

“I’m convinced that we selected the most suitable provider of the replacement iPads, in fact we are strong supporters of Apple products and we have been an Apple Distinguished school for a number of years.”