FOI Request - Measures to Tackle Digital Poverty
Under the Freedom of Information act 2000 I would like to know
1. what budget/policies your council have put in place to combat digital poverty/digital exclusion (such as lack of access to devices/internet or digital skills training) over the last 3 years.
Please break down by financial year, and include the following:
a) Amount of money/budget spent (£) on devices, digital skills training or anything else across each of the last three financial years (or as far back as you can provide)
b) Amount of devices donated to families, schools, or charities in need - Please also include a breakdown of each device type (i.e. laptop, mobile phone, tablet, etc.) and associated costs
c) A list of any specific policies, activities or consultations introduced to tackle digital poverty
If it is not possible to provide the information requested due to the information exceeding the cost of compliance limits identified in Section 12, please provide advice and assistance, under the Section 16 obligations of the Act, as to how I can refine my request.
Over the past three years, schools and Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings have been impacted by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and two extended periods of National lockdown. This resulted in move to Remote Learning of our children and young people over two extended periods during this time, and provision of devices for those children and families who required this support. Our approach was in line with the Scottish Government provision of funding to enable support to children, to reduce impact of digital inequity. Initially 500 devices were issued on loan on first lockdown in 2020, which was subsequently replaced by local and national funding from William Grant Foundation, Lord Lieutenant's Emergency Fund and Scottish Government funding with a total of 1,512 devices made available initially for children and young people. Free connectivity solutions to access the Internet (mi-fi devices) were also provided to help further reduced impact of digital inequity for our learners.
In total, 2,808 devices (mainly laptops) have been purchased and distributed to pupils and staff since first lockdown in March 2020, with a further 534 purchased for during the 2021/2022 school year. 625 secondary school pupils received a 1:1 device. Our Digital Strategy for Education has been revised to address some of the issues related to performance of WiFi, bandwidth, virtual approaches, digital learning and teaching and curriculum. Our Transformation service continue to take this forward as part of our wider ICT across schools agenda. Our Education Committee reports on ICT and Digital Strategy/Inclusion provide more detail in this area available on www.moray.gov.uk
a) We have two Learning Technologists employed to support our Digital agenda (one post currently vacant) with annual salary band of £37,379-£41,074. Our Learning Technologists support digital skills training, CLPL and roll-out of devices as well as supporting DPIA processes and emerging technology. They also play an integral part in our strategy moving forward and support communication with ICT to facilitate further supports. We also had the benefit of services of additional Technician support to survey our schools ICT estate to enable further needs analysis of emerging issues on return from lockdown.
Total cost of devices to date is noted as £1,208,873. Through the Improvement and Modernisation programme, £50,000 has also been allocated to support the raising attainment (curriculum breadth and digital delivery workstream) with consultancy support to see direction of travel on scope, costs and benefits of digital and curriculum projects. Our Moray Council ICT department provide considerable helpdesk, support, advice and development of our ICT network and in terms of devices where it is difficult to attribute a financial cost to this.
b) Predominantly laptops were provided to pupils and staff at a total cost of £1,208,873 as noted above with device numbers provided in (1) above. This also included devices issued as part of the schools refresh programme and to allow staff and pupils to work from home or in school securely, 'Always on VPN' was enabled.
c) We undertook a number of key surveys with findings reported through our Education Committee and appropriate actions taken to Children, Families and Schools to guide our approaches. We developed Remote Learning guidance and toolkits in support of schools and Critical Key Worker and Vulnerable children hubs supported learning also. This included support for digital devices and access to printing/support. Education Scotland engaged with us in their thematic review. These have been reported up through our Education Committee on www.moray.gov.uk with main aim to remove barriers to digital connectivity and equitable access. Our schools are proactive in supporting children and families, knowing them well and providing access to devices/resources/support etc.
-ICT Strategy for Schools
-Moray Remote Learning Guidance
-Moray Remote Learning Toolkits
-Use and support guides (MS Teams/Google Classroom/GLOW products) - Learning Technologist blog/support materials -Remote Learning Survey -Learners -Remote Learning Survey - Parents/Carers -Remote Learning Survey - Schools -Digital Innovation Strategy for Education -Raising attainment: Curriculum development and digital