A policy which sees around 1,000 laptops issued each year to new pupils starting their high school careers has been praised by Scotland’s Deputy First Minister.

John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Education & Skills, congratulated Stirling Council this week after the implementation of an initiative which sees every S1 pupil beginning their studies at secondary schools in the local authority area issued with a Chromebook device.

The £100,000 investment in equipment – provided by technology company XMA – was signed off at the start of the 2018/19 school calendar year after the completion of a two-year pilot initiative. Each new S1 year group starting the seven schools in the local authority area will now receive one of the machines, which they can use in school and for homework, representing a “significant investment” in digital technology, according to a council spokesman.

The spokesman added Mr Swinney was apparently so impressed by a parent who stood up at an event in the authority area last year, praising the introduction of the Chromebooks – which use Google’s operating system but are manufactured by companies including HP, Dell and ASUS – that he asked to come back and see the programme in action.

The scheme is part of the Council’s digital learning drive, which aims to equip Stirling’s young people with the skills to thrive and succeed in an increasingly digital workplace and society.

By improving access to the technology to all secondary pupils, the local authority is also striving to tackle digital inequalities and raise attainment.

During his visit to Stirling High on Wednesday this week, the Deputy First Minister was given a presentation on the school’s digital journey, saw the Chromebooks in action in an S1 English class and met with young people with dyslexia who explained how the technology is supporting their learning. 

Mr Swinney said: “Technology increasingly dominates our everyday lives and can play a significant role in supporting learning. Introducing it in a positive manner is vital in helping young people prepare for their lives beyond school.

“Tackling inequality is key if we are to close the poverty related attainment gap. Stirling High School’s approach ensures all pupils have access to technology, enhancing their digital learning opportunities and giving them the skills and confidence to help them thrive in other aspects of their lives.”

The Council is funding two thirds of the scheme via a significant investment of capital expenditure, with the remainder coming from the secondary schools’ delegated budgets. Around 1,000 devices were issued to S1 pupils at the start of the current academic session.  

Convener of Stirling Council’s Children and Young People Committee, Cllr Susan McGill said: “Investing in this initiative boosts our vision for digital learning in Stirling, ensuring our young people have the confidence and tools to flourish in the expanding digital world.  

“We want all of our young people to reach their potential so it’s fantastic to see that Chromebooks are enhancing the quality of learning and teaching across all subject areas at Stirling High and in our other secondary schools.”

Vice Convener of the Committee, Cllr Christine Simpson said: “We are committed to giving all our children and young people in Stirling equal opportunities and using the latest digital technology is one of our key drivers to achieving this goal. 

“Stirling High has a strong track record in this area, and I am really impressed at how its young people play such a leading role in developing the school’s digital strategy, including in the rollout of Chromebooks.”

Stirling High’s pilot of the project proved a significant success, increasing pupil engagement in digital skills and transforming learning and teaching, with positive feedback from young people, parents and carers and staff.

Paul Cassidy, Headteacher at Stirling High School, said: “With the support of Stirling Council, Stirling High School is at the forefront of developing young people’s digital skills. 

“Our use of Chromebooks is now embedded as part of everyday learning and teaching and our young people are engaged and leading their learning through digital tools. Staff here at Stirling High School are highly skilled in ensuring that our young people are equipped with the skills and knowledge required to be successful citizens of the 21st century.”

Stirling Council Chromebook schools:

Stirling High School
Bannockburn High School 
Wallace High School
St Modan’s High School
Dunblane High School
McLaren High School
Balfron High School