Monday, January 08, 2007

Spend or Invest. That's the Question

Late Sunday, and just returned from London. Our eldest works in computers and he's just moved in - next door to Kew Gardens. Overlooks the Thames and a great view of the Varsity Boat Race as well. Very handy for us. All four of ours are into computers. We always made sure we 'invested' in the best home computer available (best we could afford that is) when they were kids. It turned out to be a very good investment.

And on reading the Western Mail website tonight, I learn from Matt Withers that Plaid Cymru intend to promise every child in Wales a free laptop if Ieuan wins the Election next May - at a cost of £10 million (and the rest). In passing, I wonder whether the sons of Welsh Labour Quango Kings who send their issue to Eton will qualify - just as I wonder whether Prince William would qualify for the gift of £5,000 which Plaid want to give to every new housebuyer. Anyway, I find this 'laptops for all' an interesting proposal. I know from personal experience that early familiarisation with Information Technology is hugely beneficial. But is it practical and is this the state stepping in to take over the role of parents. And would we see millions of outdated laptops in a years time. We felt that we needed to buy an updated version every year. I can see so many pitfalls in this. But I'm not as opposed to this as I was to free prescriptions for all, or free breakfasts for all, which were blatant vote-buying schemes - at least not without more detail.

But where is the money coming from? Over the next few weeks, we will be inundated with 'free offers' from political parties hoping to win favour with voters next May. The first question every time must be "where is the money coming from?" It is the blood of the small businessman that runs through my veins.


Anonymous said...

Free laptops for children are a ridiculous idea. Do plaid think that all these ten million quids worth laptops will just stay with the children for whom they are intended? Half of them will be sold for god knows what or not even acessible to the children. Shows an ignorance of reality.

Anonymous said...

"It is the blood of the small businessman that runs through my veins."

Does he mind giving you all that blood?

I'm not sure about the laptop idea. Better to sort out IT provision in schools first - many teachers aren't at all clued up about computers and get very little training to update their skills.

Glyn Davies AM said...

Plaid have not given us enough information on this to properly assess the plan. The more I think about it, the more it seems just an eye-catching gimmick. Development of every individual's IT skills is important - but Blamerbell makes a good point about investment in the capacity of teachers to teach the subject being a more effective use of teh money.

Anonymous said...

I think that the intention is to get the idea out there in the run up to the Manifesto launch,and for the likes of yourselves to pull the idea apart, it appears!
It's not about the state taking over from the parents, it's about giving children the opportunity to develop skills outside the classroom. Many families have computers at home, and children are expected more and more to research home work on internet search engines. This scheme will undoubtedly help those who currently do not have access to computers at home in developing their knowledge of computers - ready for the world of work.

Having regular access to computers will also allow students to practise their essay writing skills on the computer before they enter University/ college/- skills such as preparing footnotes, indenting, writing Bibliographies..Very useful skills which I was never taught before going to University.

It certainly isn't an eye catching gimmick. Schemes like this work in other countries, and it has been well researched.

I agree that IT provision needs to be developed further in our schools, but perhaps blamerbell is talking from his own experience when he mentions that many teachers arn't clued up about computers. I'm sure that teachers' skills have developed since blamerbell's school years ;-)

Michael Cridland said...

That almost sounds as bad as Labour's promise of free breakfast for every child.

I wonder how many new teachers 10,000,000 would pay for? Smaller class sizes is what we want! not free breakfasts, computers or whatever someone will think of next.

They should speak to my father in law who was a successful superintendant of LA schools in the 60s and 70s when California began reducing class sizes.

I'm surprised at Owen John Thomas would not push that (not only being a former deputy head, but also my teacher from the remote past!

Well educated teachers is whats needed!


Anonymous said...

An interesting idea but a similar scheme was undertaken with a project called the enterprise college run by Glamorgan University, where they offered free laptops to everyone on the course.

Of course, the vast majority of laptops were never seen again and the project cost millions in European funding. I wonder if the Assembly ever looked into this?

Glyn Davies AM said...

Bethan, I do't want to be too negative about the aim of this proposal - because I support the idea of maximising opportunity to develop IT skills. However I am not convinced that investing so much money in hundreds of thousands of laptops is better than investing in developing capacity within the teaching prefession.

Michael Cridland said...

I think you better concentrate on teaching kids how to read and write.

I find a lot of school leavers cannot spell, and their grammar is appalling.

I'm sorry its a pointless and expensive gimmick!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you dont want to be too negative. However, I don't think that it should be a question of either free laptops or developing capacity within the teaching profession. They are too separate issue.