An Auckland school has triggered an uproar by placing the new iPad on its 'compulsory' stationery list for Year 9 students next year.
Orewa College last month sent a letter home to the parents of Year 8 students saying they need their "help and financial input" to provide "affordable portable computing devices such as netbooks and laptops, iPads and the smaller devices such as iTouch and smart phones" for students.
The decile nine school says it is "grasping the opportunity to step into the 21st Century with the latest technology available".
The iPad, which retails from $799 on Apple's website, is the school's recommended option, due to its longer battery life and selection of applications.
Labour's education spokeswoman Sue Moroney said many families will find it hard to find the money for the devices.
"I think what we've got to be careful of is that we don't end up with a two-tier education system where we put low-income families in a really embarrassing situation - one in which they can't provide their child with really expensive technology and therefore limit their education," she told Fairfax Media.
She said not just lower income families will struggle to find the money.
However Orewa College principal Kate Shevland defended the policy, saying the school's computers provide an alternative for other students.
"We realise times are tough," she told Fairfax.
"So we are looking at the possibilities of funding or support. That is why we have given parents and students so much time - half a year."
The school already has around 400 computers, however access is difficult for students as demand is high, the school says.
Meetings were held earlier this month for parents to discuss the new stationery requirements with the school and to see the iPad 2 for themselves.
Feedback from parents had been "varied", Ms Shevland said.
Herald Online staff