Issue - meetings

Hwb Digital Programme

Meeting: 18/03/2021 - Education, Youth & Culture Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Item 46)

46 Hwb Digital Programme pdf icon PDF 118 KB

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(a) That the implementation of the national Hwb programme in Flintshire schools and the work undertaken to increase the ratios of devices to pupils be noted; and


(b) That the Committee was assured that Flintshire learners had not been digitally disadvantaged during the lockdown period by the effective actions of schools and the Council’s Education and IT Services.


            The Primary Learning Advisor introduced a report which provided details of the implementation of the national HWB programme in Flintshire schools and the work undertaken to increase the ratios of devices to pupils.


            During the pandemic there had been constant communication with schools and a gap analysis of devices was carried out.  This provided information on how many devices were already in schools which had been very encouraging but there were more required to meet the formula agreed with the schools.  The Primary Learning Advisor confirmed there was a need for 6,000 more devices following the last delivery into schools in January and February and confirmed there was also an order of Chrome Books which was due in May from WG which would meet some of the needs in the gap analysis. 


There had been very positive feedback from schools regarding blended learning with detailed analysis shown in section 1.04 of the report.  The Primary Learning Advisor confirmed MiFi devices were procured as part of the HWB and these had gone to families who did not have enough Wi-Fi connection.  She referred to the Neumark Foundation who had supported all of the North Wales Authorities procuring a further 110 devices and about 80 or 90 devices had been deployed directly to schools where they were needed.  A sustainable model would be put in through the School funding formula to ensure all schools had the same equipment as schools would now be required to maintain the same level of devices and hopefully all learners would have more devices to do their homework. 


            Councillor Dave Mackie referred to the financial impact on schools on their commitment to keep the devices up to date and fund repairs etc. which could be an expensive cost in the future.  He understood this was being considered as an allocation on funding within the school budget formula and asked if schools were aware of the cost implications.  In response, the Primary Learning Advisor advised that additional funding was to be provided to Schools as digital devices would now be a key part of pupil’s education and digital equipment was the new resource that schools needed to budget for.  This would be discussed further at the forthcoming School Budget Forum meeting. 


            Councillor Smith as for clarification on the PSBA Network.  In response, the Chief Officer commented that this was the internet network which was routed through the council’s network to schools to ensure the firewalls were maintained together with internet speeds.  The Primary Learning Advisor added that this was monitored by the Council’s IT department and that during lockdown most schools had had sufficient capacity.  The Chief Officer confirmed that if there were issues with the bandwidth used by schools to deliver lessons then schools were able to escalate this with the IT Department.


            The Senior Manager (School Improvement) confirmed the term PSBA was the Public Sector Broadband Aggregation across lots of public sector networks all the way through Wales where usage could be monitored.  Education delivery had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46