Every 10 to 17 year old in the Borders is to receive an iPad, according to a £16m investment announcement by Scottish Borders Council.
As well as every P6 to S6 pupil receiving an iPad, which they can take home and use with their family, iPads will be bought for P1 to P5 pupils at a ratio of one for every five children.
The investment has been made as part of Scottish Borders Council’s 2019/20 financial budget, which was announced by the ruling Tory/Independent administration on Thursday 21 February.
The budget indicates that the local authority needs to save £29.5m over the next five years, and includes a 4% rise in council tax.
Despite this, councillor Robin Tatler, the council’s executive member for finance, said: “We’re announcing today the launch of ‘inspire learning’. This is a major 10-year investment in digital learning in the Scottish Borders.
“It’s a key part of the council’s key learning strategy, and will transform teaching and learning in our schools for the benefit of young people now, and into the future.
“Apple iPads will be provided for every P6 to S6 pupil, and shared devices will be available for P1 To P5 pupils.
“Individual devices will be owned by the pupil, and therefore can be taken home, which means that family members can benefit from learning how to to use digital technology, and from being able to access digital services including Scottish Borders Council’s growing digital offering.”
Council leader Shona Haslam, who represents Tweeddale East, added: “It’s a really exciting, and huge investment on behalf of the council.
“We’re the first local authority in Scotland to be rolling out iPads on this scale to every single young person.
“We’re really excited about the impact it’s going to have in the poverty attainment gap, as well as for additional needs students. Quite often in classrooms additional needs students are the odd ones out because they’re sitting with their iPads. That will now no longer be the case.
“All the students will have an iPad, they will be able to bring them home and they’ll have that interactive learning opportunity.
“Being the first local authority to do it, and working very closely with [technology companies] Apple and CGI we’ve got a good deal.”
The main opposition parties, the SNP and the Scottish Democrats, have also announced that their rival budget, which is due to be voted on on Thursday, February 28, also includes an investment in digital learning.
Their plan is to invest £11.4m in iPads.