Petition lodged by parents demanding ‘disadvantaged’ Monikie pupils finally get internet access

© Daniel Law/PA

A petition has been lodged with Angus Council demanding that Monikie Primary pupils finally get access to 21st century technology.

The 107-name request to install Wi-Fi and internet at the rural school will go before members of Angus Council’s development standards committee in Forfar on Tuesday.

Committee members have been told “appropriate action is planned” but they have been given a range of options including referring the matter to a full meeting of Angus Council for a debate.

Gill Bain, chair of Monikie Primary School’s Parent Teacher Partnership (PTP) said: “The parents at Monikie Primary School submitted the petition to try and speed up the process of getting Wi-Fi at Monikie Primary School.

“We currently feel that our children are at a disadvantage as they are not able to use tablets or iPads as part of their learning at the school.

“They are also not using their Glow accounts at school either.

“We understand that things are moving forward and the school is due to be fitted, hopefully during the Easter holidays, but this has been an ongoing situation for a long time.

“I think the current situation is being held up by planning permission required to establish masts nearby in order to rectify the problem.”

The petition goes on to state that: “In this digital age, it is unacceptable that the children are unable to access relevant and additional educational resources, or make use of Glow, Scotland’s digital environment for learning, throughout the school”.

Angus Council’s head of law Sheona Hunter said: “The signatories intimate that the children at Monikie Primary School, through no fault of their own, are being put at an educational disadvantage in comparison with all but a handful of the other 63 schools in Angus, due to the lack of Wi-Fi in their school.

“Members are advised that providing this connectivity is part of a wider programme to enable the roll-out of digital connectivity throughout Angus

“It is intended that Monikie Primary School will be connected to the council main network via Panmure Monument and Carnoustie High School.”

Schools are increasingly using online learning materials to access additional educational resources including Glow which is the Scottish Schools National Intranet.

The committee will be told that surveys have been undertaken to confirm that the connection is viable and radio equipment has been ordered and is stored with the contractor.

The landowner of Panmure Monument has been contacted and is amenable in principle to the radio mast being installed on the monument and a quote has been obtained from SSE.

Ms Hunter said the project is scheduled to be complete this school session “depending on approval from planning authority, Historic Scotland and conclusion of legal agreement with landowner”.

She said members are asked to determine that appropriate action is being proposed which will ensure Wi-Fi connectivity to Monikie Primary School and no further action is necessary

The spend on this project will be £21,000 and is covered within existing Angus Council budgets.

The focus of Angus Council’s digital strategy 2017-2020 was to ensure “that schools are connected to the internet” in the next two years.

In 2017, council chiefs signalled their intention to bring rural Angus communities in from the darkness of a broadband black hole.

Under a new project, the authority struck a deal with Strathmore Estates to rent land on a prominent local hill to site a relay mast for bouncing broadband toward schools and businesses whose remote location has been a barrier to getting a clear signal.