Laptops that raised grades are scrapped

Geraldine Gittens

A DISADVANTAGED Dublin school which saw a huge improvement in grades when laptops were introduced will not receive any more computers next year.

Pupils at St Aidan's School, Brookfield in Tallaght have seen a notable upturn in exam results since a pilot study began in 2005, where every student in first year was to receive a laptop for five years.

Suspensions and absenteeism decreased dramatically, and fewer teachers left the school since the South Dublin County Council (SDCC) project began.


But incoming first-years will not receive new laptops, as the plug is being pulled on the scheme, and the school will lose its technical support worker.

The school, which is a DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) school, experienced a 50pc decrease in the number of suspensions in one year under the scheme.

Principal Frank Moran says he is now worried for the students' future.

"The council are withdrawing from the project now. We now have a stock of 520 laptops but the problem now is the technical support will be gone, and there'll be no replacing of laptops.

"I'd be worried about the school going into the future. Laptops only have a certain lifetime and when the sixth-years finish, the plan is to get 120 laptops back to give to the new first-years, but we reckon 30pc will not return."

Mr Moran has noted an increase in progression to third-level education among the students, which he says is an indicator of the scheme's success.

"We're going to try and get a stock of laptops but there will be a gap there, and it may not be possible to continue with it."

Ronan Herron, a spokesperson for SDCC, said that while funding was being withdrawn, the council would do everything in its power to keep the scheme running.

"The project is not going to be abandoned. Second-hand laptops will be provided. So it's about meeting the challenges of making the project sustainable," he said.