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Fife teacher claims school pupils are being disadvantaged by lack of adequate IT

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A teacher at one of Fife’s largest schools claims pupils are being disadvantaged by a lack of IT support for educators.

The secondary school teacher says he is having to use a nine-year-old repurposed laptop that doesn’t work properly to teach children while schools are closed.

He says the out-of-date computer provided by Fife Council is inadequate to deliver world class learning and live lessons remotely.

“It is slow, its space bar doesn’t work properly, it is missing keys, it’s microphone doesn’t work, the camera is blurry and it has been graffitied by pupils,” he said.

“Is this the standard of resource that we, as Scotland’s educators, deserve?”

Teachers use laptops and video to teach from home.

Fife Council says any teacher who needs a device will be provided with one and any issues will be resolved.

But Labour MSP Alex Rowley accused the local authority of being “in denial”.

And he revealed he has been contacted by many other teachers with similar problems.

The teacher, from Dunfermline, wrote to Mr Rowley  with a plea for help.

He wants to ensure Fife pupils receive the same provision as those in other Scottish local authorities.

“Being a teacher during normal times is difficult and it has certainly been a challenge over these past months,” he said.

“There has still not been any kind of IT provision for teachers.”

Fife secondary school teacher.

“However, looking around at my colleagues and friends, I have been made proud by the way we have worked together in the best interests of pupils.”

‘I have been disappointed’

Despite the problems, he has been impressed by many pupils and initially welcomed the use of technology as an opportunity.

“I have been disappointed, however, by the provision of IT equipment to pupils and teachers in Fife Council,” he added.

“During the first lockdown, we were not provided with any additional equipment to support us to do our jobs effectively.

“Not only this but pupils were not provided with devices to support their learning, meaning many pupils I teach are working on tiny phone screens or sharing devices with their family members.

“This was somewhat understandable as, of course, this global pandemic was a shock and surprise to us all.”

He continued, however: “Nearly one year on and we are now in a second period of school building closure.

“There has still not been any kind of IT provision for teachers.”

“Fife Council needs to stop being in denial.”

Alex Rowley MSP.

Colleagues in other council areas have been provided with iPads, Chromebooks or new laptops, he said.

Mr Rowley said the situation in Fife is not acceptable.

“This issue has been raised by a teacher,” he said.

“And I’ve spoken to many other teachers who told me about similar problems.

“Fife Council needs to stop being in denial and start listening to staff on the front line.

“It also needs to get its act together to ensure children aren’t disadvantaged by a lack of connectivity for themselves or their teachers.”

‘Any issues will be resolved’

Fife’s head of education Angela Logue said all teachers and pupils are given IT support.

Schools can also provide teachers with a device if they need one.

“All secondary schools are able to configure school devices for use at home by pupils or staff if needed,” she said.

“Primary schools are also given support with this.

“Any issues with the functionality of devices will be resolved to make sure teachers are able to support their children and young people to engage effectively in remote learning.”

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