A man nearly as nationally unpopular as his Irish counterpart, Gordon Brown’s announcement that his Government is going to give away free laptops to pupils from poor backgrounds has been widely welcomed in the UK.
A scheme that that will no doubt be watched closely on this side of the Irish sea, 270,000 families in England are set to benefit with the total cost of the project – entitled Home Access, making it sound like kids will only get to visit their laptops an the weekend and take them out to McDonalds – coming in at around £300 million (€335 million).
The BBC reports that it will allow children most in need (such as those in care and those from some of the poorest parts in the UK) to apply for a grant for a free laptop and broadband connection. As the Beeb point out, “A recent study from the Institute of Fiscal Studies suggested having a laptop at home could lead to a two grade improvement in one subject at GCSE.”
Under this new scheme, which was due to go nationwide last autumn and was championed by former education minister Jim Knight, the family gets the laptop to keep, but the broadband connection is funded for one year. After that they can decide whether to keep funding the connection themselves. Families with children aged seven to 14 will be able to apply for a grant to buy a computer and broadband connection from an approved stockist.
Children’s Secretary Ed Balls (note: I will NEVER stop laughing at that name) said: “Families who are most in need cannot be left behind in the digital revolution we’re seeing in education. We’re leading the world with the way we use technology in learning and we’ve shown our commitment to this by making ICT the backbone of every lesson in the new primary curriculum.”