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'No money' for school iPads - parent

An Auckland school has triggered an uproar by placing the new iPad on a 'compulsory' stationery list. File photo / Dean Purcell.
An Auckland school has triggered an uproar by placing the new iPad on a 'compulsory' stationery list. File photo / Dean Purcell.

An Orewa College parent says the use of iPads in school work would be good for the schools and its students, but the community just does not have the money to pay for them.

The 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.

Labour MP Sue Moroney said that cost is excessive for low and middle income parents - and no one wanted their children disadvantaged at school.

"Putting something that is out of the reach of most families, as a compulsory part of the stationery, just means there's going to be a lot of heartache for a lot of families while they explain to their children that they just can';t possibly afford what other children in the class have access to,'' she said.

One Orewa College parent is dead against the idea of iPads for students.

A parent, Ally, told Newstalk ZB's Danny Watson they'll be good for the school and for the students, but not for parent's pockets.

''Some of us parents need the income first. We're in a recession. We just had news reports last night we can hardly afford our food. I know you can go out there and fundraise, but honestly, the community doesn't have the money.''

Ally also raised concerns about cyber bullying and kids potentially getting assaulted for their iPad.

Meanwhile, the head girl at Orewa College believes introducing iPads at her school will help its reputation.

Head girl Heather Wilcock said a lot of young people traveled from Orewa to attend private schools.

She believes the Orewa College will be seen as more up to date if it used iPads and may attract more students.

Ms Wilcock said the college was trying to make the iPad accessible to all students and parents could set up a payment plan to contribute money towards the iPad every week or month.

Secondary Schools Principals Association president Patrick Walsh said eventually all schools will want to bring in iPads.

He said that means students at lower decile schools were at risk of missing out.

Mr Walsh says it could be situation where the Government needs to step in and support those communities and said some parents may be offered a transition period, during which they can save up for an iPad.

Raewyn Fox, chief executive of the New Zealand Federation of Family Budgeting Services, said the requirement would put further pressure on already struggling families.

"You may think that Orewa is a high decile area but we're getting more and more customers using our budget services who do have quite good incomes but somebody's been made redundant or something and they're struggling with mortgages and they actually have no money to spare.''

If iPads were essential for students' education then perhaps the school or the government should provide them, she said.

"But it's not just the money. If in a family you've got a couple of teenagers and they say `I have to have this for school now, you have to give me the money'... it actually creates friction and tension in families if the money's tight."

- Newstalk ZB, NZPA

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