Neath Port Talbot (NPT) Council has agreed to spend over £300,000 on IT equipment for schools so they can deliver blended learning.
The council’s cabinet voted in favour of spending £303,500 on new equipment and approved an order of 700 iPads and 3,000 Chromebooks, during a meeting held on Wednesday November 25.
Council leader Rob Jones said he was “very heartened” to see the council has spent “just short of £3m” on IT equipment over the last three years.
He added: “We’re all fishing in a very shallow pond throughout the whole of Wales and dare I say it the whole of the UK but we did have the foresight to actually place this order and we are well placed to continue.”
The Welsh Government is delivering grants to local authorities to improve IT provision in primary and secondary schools over a 3-year period. It started in 2019/20 and is expected to end in 2021/22.
In the first year, the council received 540 iPads, 1,089 Chromebooks, 300 Windows devices and 420 teacher devices. Head teachers have since reviewed their IT needs due to the requirements created by blended learning (home/classroom learning) during the pandemic.
So far, the government has given NPT Council £1.9m for IT equipment in its schools and is expected to give an extra £591,716 for the financial year 2021/22.
On Wednesday, the council agreed to put £300k from its capital budget towards new devices to meet the revised amount of equipment set out by head teachers.
The money will go towards an additional 718 iPads and 2,984 Chromebooks, in line with their requests. It will be sourced from a loan and repaid over five years.
There are 21,300 children and 1,240 teachers in NPT schools in need of IT equipment to improve learning, according to a report by Aled Evans (director of education and lifelong learning) and Hywel Jenkins (director of finance and corporate services).
The report states schools will have access to the new equipment as soon as it is available.