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Friday 22 May 2020

Scottish Borders leads the way in new blended learning approach

Scottish Borders Council logoYesterday, the Scottish Government announced that schools in Scotland are expected to reopen from 11 August, with most pupils spending around half their time in class and half learning at home. Support for this blended model will include an initial £9m of government funding to supply 25,000 laptops or tablets to disadvantaged children. A second phase of investment will see further funding to support digital inclusion as part of a £30m package.

However, Scottish Borders Council (SBC) schools will have a head start on other parts of the country, having already established a major programme to enhance digital learning in the region. The Inspire Learning programme, which was announced last year, includes £16m investment from SBC over a 10-year period to provide every pupil from school year P6 to S6 with an iPad and access to a suite of learning tools. The initiative, which also includes significant investment in teacher training and support infrastructure, is being supported by SBC’s IT partner CGI, alongside XMA and Apple.

CGI logoSBC identified a need to improve and update the ICT equipment in schools and starting in January 2018 worked with CGI to build the programme. The rollout of devices started in September 2019 and to date nearly 6,300 pupils have been provided with an iPad. The roll-out of devices was accelerated so it could be completed before the COVID-19 lockdown, helping ensure secondary schools in the region had access to the right technology to support learning from home.

Plans are also in place for the roll out of Inspire Learning to primary pupils. iPads have been given to every primary teacher in the region and training is being provided ahead of P6 and P7 pupils receiving devices later this year.

The blended learning approach all Scottish schools will be facing in August will bring many challenges e.g. timetabling, training and infrastructure. SBC’s plans to reduce inequality within the classroom has meant schools in the region have been in a good position during the pandemic and it should stand them in good stead for the start of the new school year.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: localgovernment   scotland   learning   schools  

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