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Chromebook 'refresh' for thousands of Highland Council pupils is part of a £6m investment that will have knock-on impact for refurbishment specialist

By Hector MacKenzie

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The Chromebook 'refresh' was announced today.
The Chromebook 'refresh' was announced today.

A MASSIVE investment in new Chromebooks for Highland pupils will also provide plenty of work for a refurbishment specialist dedicated to reducing electrical waste.

Highland Council says it is demonstrating its commitment to ensuring pupils have the technology they need to support digital learning by undertaking the "major refresh" for more than 20,000 of its Chromebook devices.

The small laptops play a key role in schools with a one-to-one allocation for all secondary pupils and senior primary pupils and shared devices for all other primary classes.

Some 23,349 new Chromebooks will be issued over the next six months, starting with S1 to S3 pupils who should get theirs before the end of term.

It is intended that primary pupils will get new devices when they return from the summer break and the remaining secondary pupils by the end of 2022.

The new devices will also help to protect pupils by having latest security software and learning from experience from the previous roll-out, the new Chromebook model being issued "is more robust and will come with a protective case which increases device resilience".

The vast majority of the older devices will go to ILM Highland in Alness for recycling and resale where possible.

ILM Highland are an independent charity and social enterprise supporting vulnerable people to be at home through the provision of home improvement, electrical recycling and retail services, with all profits being reinvested back into the local community.

This refresh project is the first stage of what is intended to be a sustainable rolling programme of updates for future years.

Education chairman John Finlayson said: “Any doubts about the importance of the Chromebooks and the Google Classroom tools will have disappeared after the experience of the last two years during the pandemic.

"Pupils in Highland were better equipped for online and blended learning than those in any other part of Scotland. Hopefully we won’t be going back to further lockdowns, but the use of technology to deliver learning across the curriculum will develop and continue and it’s vital our young people have the right tools to learn in an increasingly digital world.

“This investment of nearly £6 million demonstrates the council’s strong commitment to ensuring that all pupils have access to technology, whatever their personal circumstances, at a time when many parents will be faced with making hard choices about how they use their own finances.

"The availability of so many digital devices will support and empower Highland pupils to access digital learning opportunities and it will also promote equity and fairness across our communities.”

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