Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP has today warned that a “negligent” Scottish Government has allowed pupils to fall through the cracks as she revealed that more than 4,000 digital devices to enable home learning still hadn't been distributed to pupils a year after the pandemic struck.
In response to a parliamentary question from Ms Wishart, Education Secretary Shirley Anne-Somerville revealed that at the end of March 2021, 4,352 devices for learners had been ordered but not yet received or distributed.
At the end of the second period of nationwide home learning the Scottish Government was still 800 devices short of the distribution target it set in June 2020 for pupils from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.
Beatrice Wishart said:
“It beggars belief that after two long periods of home learning pupils still didn't have the devices they need to be able to learn from home.
"From the moment schools first closed the government should have been working out how to get every pupil online and able to access learning and lessons. In fact, a year later more than 1 in 20 of the devices ordered by local authorities hadn't been delivered.
“We know that a large number of pupils have been learning in less-than-ideal circumstances, forced to share devices with siblings or unable to access learning materials. Many have also struggled due to the lack of a stable and fast internet connection, especially in more rural areas. Now we know that these issues have been exacerbated by a Scottish Government whose failure to deliver digital devices to pupils verges on negligent.
“When schools return in August it is possible that in-person teaching will still not always be available, due to pupils and staff needing to isolate, so this is an ongoing problem that still needs to be fixed.
“It’s simply not good enough for ministers to pin the blame on local authorities.
“The next twelve months needs to be about helping education recover. Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to argue for more in-class support to help children who have missed out to reach their full potential and a guaranteed job for every teacher to cut class sizes.”