iPad gift is boost for Paisley pupils

Pupils at a Paisley school have been given a technology boost – after they were gifted an iPad.

Kersland School – which caters for pupils with a range of additional support needs – already uses touchscreen technology to help the children communicate.

When bosses at IT consultancy Sopra Group – Renfrewshire Council’s technical partners – became aware of how the technology was helping the pupils, they kindly offered to donate an iPad to the school.

The award was made as part of the company’s commitment to rewarding innovative use of technology in the public sector.

John Bailey, Sopra Group’s Head of Local Authorities and Health, visited the school to see for himself how the gift would help the children.

There, he met Councillor Jacqueline Henry, the Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education Policy Board, and Robert Naylor, director of the council’s Education and Leisure Services Department.

Councillor Henry said: “I was delighted to visit the school to see for myself how new technology is making it easier for the pupils to develop their social and communications skills.

“We would like to express our thanks to Sopra Group for their very kind gesture in donating the iPad.”

John Bailey said: “We believe people who take forward innovation should be rewarded and wanted to do so within Renfrewshire in a way related to the work of Sopra Group.

“We were moved by the story of how technology has helped the pupils at Kersland. It is fantastic to see how technology can make a difference to people.”

At Kersland, the pupils have been using iPads and smartboard technology to communicate their needs, to say how they are feeling, and even to order lunch.

Kersland School head teacher Michelle Welsh said: “Being able to use iPads has really increased the children’s independence.

“It’s been really positive for the children and staff, they have really taken to it, and we are delighted.

“The pupils use various pieces of technology which allow them to communicate much more independently and are really easy to use.

“All the children get something out of it and it’s been life-changing for some of them. It’s been a great opportunity.”

Press Release: Renfrewshire set to reconsider changes to primary school week.

Renfrewshire Council is set to reconsider its proposed changes to the primary school week.

The Council had planned a pilot programme starting in August where specialist support staff would work with primary school classes for 2.5 hours a week on issues such as healthy lifestyle, citizenship, sport and culture.

Now councillors at the meeting of Renfrewshire Council’s Education Policy Board on Thursday February 24 will be asked to suspend the new approach.

The council would instead raise issues such as affordability, teacher class contact time and the role of other staff in schools, in its formal submission to the McCormac Review on teacher employment.

As a result, the council is proposing to suspend the pilot scheme, and also the training and recruitment of the new employees who would have delivered it.

“How all councils deliver good quality education in this era of drastically reduced funding remains an issue,” said Councillor Lorraine Cameron, Convener of Renfrewshire

“We believe that our proposal has merit in taking an innovative approach to delivering learning experiences while avoiding damaging cuts.

“However, we know that it would be a major change. We have listened to the concerns of parents who felt that the pace and scope of that change was too much at this time.

“In the last few days, I have had the chance to consider the terms of reference of Professor McCormac’s review on teacher employment. On that basis, it seems best that the issues Renfrewshire has been exploring are considered in a national context. Those involved in education in Renfrewshire and in Scotland can then have their say before any new approaches are taken forward.

“I now think it is better that Renfrewshire doesn’t implement its own proposals when those could well be affected and shaped by the outcome of that national review so we won’t be proceeding with our original proposal at this time.

“I will be inviting all members of the Education Policy Board to work with the council to make a practical and effective submission to the review and on developing the future of primary education in Renfrewshire.”

Council Leader Derek Mackay said: “I will be meeting parent council chairs (on Tuesday February 22) along with Councillor Cameron and outlining to them in detail the reasons for suspending the programme. We want their input into how the education service in Renfrewshire can continue to maintain high standards while tackling the savings we will be forced to make.

“Renfrewshire has consistently prioritised education and the service has been asked to make half of the average savings asked of other departments in this year’s budget.

“The impact of reduced funding is here for the foreseeable future. Difficult choices will still need to be made.

“However, it’s now clear that the McCormac review will have a detailed look at teaching and the curriculum in Scotland when it reports in the summer.

“Once that review is published and considered fully, Renfrewshire will bring forward its response to the review’s findings.

“Should the national review recommend new options then we’ll discuss our approach with parents and others in advance.”