Laptops to be given to all Newtown teachers

All teachers in Newtown and throughout Powys will receive a laptop to help them deliver online lessons during the current lockdown.

All teachers in Newtown and throughout Powys will receive a laptop to help them deliver online lessons during the current lockdown.

At a meeting of the county council’s Learning and Skills Committee, education chiefs were asked how schools were coping with online learning during the lockdown.

Interim Head of the Education Service, Lynnette Lovell, told councillors that 1,100 laptops had been ordered for teachers and that they should arrive by the end of the month.

It had been expected that children in Powys would have returned to school following the Christmas and New Year break by the middle of January.

But the situation changed when it was announced by the Welsh Government that schools would be closed until the February half term, unless there is a significant fall in coronavirus cases.

But unlike the March lockdown, teaching and learning is expected to continue.

Ms Lovell said:  “We are in a different place to last year’s lockdown where schools were re-purposed, closed and childcare hubs set up. This time schools have closed and blended learning is taking place.”

Committee chairman Cllr Peter Roberts pointed to the success of last year’s roll out of devices and broadband access for pupils, and wanted to know how much support was needed this time around.

Ms Lovell said: “There are currently four primary schools who don’t have enough, we are providing them with the digital devices they need and will get them in the next week.

“We have 300 laptops that are going out this week, which have been reassigned from various parts of the schools services. Most of these will be going out to teachers to enable them to work from home (as) they need school equipment.

“We’ve ordered 1100 laptops, one for every teacher in Powys and are expecting them by the end of January.”

It was found during the previous lockdown, that 5% of pupils did not engage with lessons.

Cllr Sandra Davies, said: “If parents aren’t supportive what can schools do to help these youngsters?”

Ms Lovell explained that a plan has been put in place with Children’s Social Services and Youth Service and that these children would be visited.

She also told the committee that a “cluster approach” was being taken which would see neighbouring schools share resources.

Ms Lovell said: “It is our expectation that teachers will share materials and ideas across schools in order to secure widespread availability of high quality materials and minimise workload.”

This would allow teachers more contact time with pupils.

She also explained that teachers from smaller schools who teach several age groups together could receive help from colleagues in a nearby bigger school, so that online work can be provided for all ages.

Ms Lovell said: “The work in Powys schools at the moment is really good, many are providing live stream lessons twice a day, and feedback is being provided on a daily basis.”

Cllr Roberts asked for the committee to be kept informed on how the roll out of equipment had gone.

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy reporting Service

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