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The cost of home schooling

Created on 21/05/2020 @ 12:40
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The cost of home schooling was revealed at this week’s cabinet e-meeting for Powys County Council (PCC) who have introduced a national programme of online teaching to ensure that children can access lessons during the Coronavirus crisis.

Part of the Edtech programme funding has been re-prioritised to help the distance learning plan, and money has been spent on 800 lap tops and 600 4G dongles for children of households that needed support.

PCC said that it had already started developing its Edtech programme before the pandemic struck, as it was identified as a vital part of helping reorganise education in the county following a critical Estyn report last year.

To develop the programme, the Welsh Government has given PCC £2.4m last year (2019/20) and £1.16m this year (2020/21).

Councillors were told that £36,500 has gone towards recycling and replacing 800 laptops and £9,000 a month is being spent on the 600 4G dongles or wi-fi units to provide internet connectivity for families who don’t have broadband.

Head of digital services, Diane Reynolds, said: “Due to Covid-19, 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 Covid-19 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, May 26, the Learning and Skills committee will get to scrutinise the Edtech programme.


By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

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