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E-learning scheme is being accelerated locally

 
Created on 21/05/2020 @ 12:30
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Developing a programme of online teaching has been accelerated to ensure that children in Newtown and throughout Powys are able to access their lessons during the coronavirus crisis.

Powys County Council's cabinet has been briefed on how part of the Edtech programme funding has been re-prioritised to help the distance learning plan.

The county council had already started developing it’s Edtech programme before the pandemic struck.

It was seen as a vital part of helping reorganise education in the county, following a critical Estyn report published last year.

To develop the programme the Welsh Government has given PCC £2.4 million last year (2019/20)and £1,160 million this year (2020/21).

Councillors were told that some money for the scheme, £36,500 has gone towards recycling and replacing 800 laptops.

These have been given to children who don’t have a device to access online lessons.

It has also gone on providing up to 600 4G dongles or wi-fi units, to provide internet connectivity for families who don’t have broadband.

The cost of this is estimated to be £9,000 a month.

Head of digital services, Diane Reynolds, said: “Due to Covid19 we were given the authority to use some of that funding to support digital learning.

“We’ve been allowed to purchase laptops and mobile wi-fi devices to get learners connected at home.”

“The laptops went out very quickly, and we worked with schools and ICT technicians to get those delivered and the wi-fi units have been winging around to learners as quickly as possible.”

Ms Reynold added that the pupils and teachers have adapted to online learning very quickly and PCC needed to “build on that” for the future.

Portfolio Holder for Corporate Governance and Engagement, Cllr Graham Breeze, said: “The timing of Edtech could not be better as we work to transform our educational offering – and ensure that every pupil in every school is given the same opportunity.

“The programme has also helped us to ensure remote learning for all pupils during the Covid19 crisis, despite the connectivity issues that have bugged our remote areas for so long.”

Portfolio Holder for Education and Property, Cllr Phyl Davies, said: “This is key to the future of learning in Powys especially with the geography and rurality we have.”

Cabinet noted the report for information, and on Tuesday, 26 May the Learning and Skills committee will get to scrutinise the Edtech programme.

 

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporting Service

 

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