by Dolline Mukui

The Scottish Borders Council announced that every child between the age of the 10 and 17 will receive the gadget as part of a £16m investment for digital learning.

This plan will allow children to take home the iPad given to them to use with families but pupils in P1 to P5 will have an iPad at a ratio of one for every five children.

The investment is aiming to promote digital technology in classrooms which is part of the Scottish Borders Council’s 2019/20 financial budget. This comes after the council need to save £29.5m in the next five years with also a 4% rise in council tax.

Council leader, Shona Haslam said ‘We’re really excited about the impact it’s going to have in the poverty attainment gap, as well as for additional needs students. Quite often in classrooms, additional needs students are the odd ones out because they’re sitting with their iPads. That will now no longer be the case.’

She also mentioned that although the Borders have faced some challenges, ‘Despite being faced with significant financial challenges, this administration is presenting a really exciting budget for the Borders, packed with huge investment plans at a truly vital time for our economy.’

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Alongside this news, an extra £2.3m has been allocated to repair roads and pavements and within the coming year – they will be safeguarding all public toilets.

With council tax set to increase, Councillor Robin Tatler, Executive Member for Finance said ‘A balanced budget is increasingly hard to achieve, particularly when public expectations are so high, demand for various services are increasing and public finances are reducing.’

It seems that the council have a strategy in place for their budget for this year, however, this doesn’t come without a price. 

Increasing council tax to 4% might help save money but without increasing wages such as the national minimum wage, residents might have to rethink their cost of living, especially for those with large families. It might seem justifiable that council tax increasing by 4% but for those already struggling to make ends meet will see the difference.

Investing in education can be achieved in other ways such as using money towards art facilities, playgrounds; simply materials for children to use before resulting to iPads. £16m could be evenly distributed among schools and let the schools decide what to use the money on to help their school.

Digital learning is a key aspect in any curriculum as children need to build multiple skills and be digitally aware, but is there a need for the tablets to be taken home? 

Giving a child an iPad can be a good addition to any classroom whether the focus is on digital innovation or using the device for online work, however, taking the iPad home could essentially be problematic. There are many parents trying to reduce online screen time for themselves and their children for many reasons. Consulting the parents on these plans would have been beneficial to this financial decision.

Dolline is a traveller, journalist and blogger who has palate to try new things. She is a very spontaneous person; you might find her skydiving over the Kenyan coast to kayaking in the Lake District. She can be an over thinker who thinks of every outcome but if she doesn’t she welcomes the change that wasn’t planned. However, she is a very simple person who is up for a good laugh or a book and enjoys living the moment. Dolline also writes for her small personal blog called ‘Swatches of Beauty’ and is currently a production journalist trainee at ITV Border.