Government laptops not good enough for school use, says Wakefield academy trust

A leader at a Wakefield academy trust has said the laptops his schools were sent from the Department for Education are so low in specification that pupils have been advised to use their games consoles instead.

Many pupils at the Rodillian academy are struggling after laptops they were sent from the Department for Education were deemed not high-specification enough

Andy Goulty, chief executive of the Rodillian Academy Trust, based in Lofthouse, said some pupils were still waiting for a good quality laptop a week after remote teaching began.

The trust has been sent over seventy laptops for use during the closure period.

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But Mr Goulty said that many of the machines sent to the school are not suitable for remote classroom technology.

Pupils at the academies have been told while they are waiting for their laptops, they can log in to software using Playstations and Xboxes if they have them.

Mr Goulty said: “The machines don’t need to be of the highest quality, but actually, they do need to better than what they are.

"Software is becoming more and more sophisticated in terms of what we’re offering in lessons, and these machines are taking us some time to turn around.

“The director of ICT has been in contact with the Department for Education to see if there are better devices out there.

“We are building eight or nine laptops a day, but we’re asking if we can get keyboards sent out which fit Playstations and Xboxes in the mean time. They’re as good as a laptop in how the software works.

“Before Christmas, lots of schools got their full allocation of laptops, but then there were cuts.

“It’s an ongoing and difficult situation."

Parent Karen Bruce, whose daughter attends Rodillian Academy, said: “It’s shocking. There’s no excuse when we’re trying to come to terms with doing home-schooling and not having the technology we need.

“It’s lack of preparation from government. Some parents are having to share their mobiles with their children to work. Other parents have been kind enough to lend out laptops, but there’s not enough to go around.

“The school have done a brilliant job, and they’ve had to manage at short notice. It’s just a shame the government haven’t prepared as well. It’s the kids’ education which is suffering, and they’ll never get that back.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “We are providing high-quality devices and are supplying laptops and tablets that meet defined minimum technical specifications and standards.”