School laptops gathering dust claim

Hundreds of laptops could be gathering dust on school shelves because their insurance doesn’t cover pupils using them at home, it’s been claimed.

Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 1:52 pm
Councillor Ryan Stephenson, the new Conservative councillor for Harewood
Councillor Ryan Stephenson, the new Conservative councillor for Harewood

Leeds and Harewood councillor Ryan Stephenson said he believed several local academies were “reluctant” to allow students to take IT devices home.

A government scheme has put computers into the homes of many underpriviliged children since the start of the pandemic to help with their education.

But Coun Stephenson, who is the Leeds Conservative group’s education spokesman, said that a number of laptops already in the possession of some schools were not being used.

It’s understood that in some cases, the excess for claiming for damage to a laptop that’s used outside of school property could be as much as £250.

Speaking at an education scrutiny meeting on Wednesday, Coun Stephenson said: “For every day a child’s out of school, it’s damaging to their education. Remote learning is not as good as learning in person.

“All schools have laptops and devices that are used to assist with learning.

“Even with the children of key workers in school there will be enough devices left over and unused in schools.

“I’m aware that some schools are reluctant or are refusing to hand those devices out to children at home, because the insurance doesn’t cover their use outside of school.

“So these devices will be left on shelves, gathering dust presumably.”

The council’s head of learning improvement, Dave Clark, said he would make enquiries into how widespread the problem is across the city.

The Government was criticised at the end of last year after slashing the original number of laptops allocated for disadvantaged pupils by around 80 per cent.

Labour councillor Jess Lennox said she was keen for more information about how schools were coping with remote learning under those circumstances.

She added: “I think it’s going to be more of a case of getting that IT access for schools from the (voluntary) sector.

“I know a number of organisations have already ramped up what they’re doing and they are trying to help schools.”