SCHOOLS across Halesowen are asking parents of whole year groups to purchase £510 iPads to 'unlock academic and personal potential.'

Parents of all pupils leaving primary school to start Windsor High in September are being asked to buy the latest iPad for £510.

The scheme is being run by Windsor Academy Trust, across its nine schools, which include Manor Way Primary, Tenterfields Primary, Colley Lane Primary Academy and Kingswinford Academy.

From September, all students in years 4 and 5 at its primary schools and years 7, 8 and 9 at the trust's secondary schools are being asked to use the expensive devices - with the move hitting some families hard.

The trust says it has "transformed teaching and learning" with its website stating that 'iPads are recognised as the best educational device available.'

Parents can make a single upfront payment of £510 or a monthly payment of £16 for 36 months, adding up to £576.

Pupils are handed their iPads in a celebratory unboxing ceremony. A picture on Windsor Trust's website shows children laughing and ticker tape streaming down as they open boxes wrapped in blue bows.

A statement on Kingswinford Academy's website offers parents of year seven students the chance to "secure their amazing new iPad."

The move has led to worries for some. The co-worker of parent of a child starting at Windsor High in September, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she had seen first-hand the stress it can cause.

She said: "It's creating quite a problem because some people can't afford this, particularly if they have one child starting one year and another the next year.

"Everyone seems to have them as no-one wants to say no.

"Five hundred pounds on top of the costs of uniform is a lot of money.

"The parent I know really can't afford it and is having to go without things, but doesn't want her child to be the one without an iPad. 

"I see how much she is worrying.

"It's bad enough for low income families at birthdays and Christmas and this is just adding to the stress.

"Also to think of 12-year-old children walking to and from school with £500 devices seems like they are being set up to be mugged."

A spokesperson for Windsor Academy Trust, which is based at Trinity Point, Halesowen, said: "iPads for Learning has helped to transform teaching and learning across our nine schools in Dudley, Staffordshire and Walsall.

"Part of our commitment to delivering a world-class education, iPads for Learning ensures children have access to the most impactful way to learn both in school and at home and develops the essential digital skills they need for their future.

"We launched iPads for Learning last year following significant investment in technology and extensive research that showed the positive impact of digital technology in education. Commitment and feedback from parents and students has been extremely positive, and due to the success of iPads for Learning, we are now expanding it to more year groups.

"The iPad includes a bespoke warranty and insurance package, software, educational accessories, and apps. There are flexible options available to parents to obtain their child's iPad that don't require an upfront purchase.

"We appreciate the financial challenges that some families face and the impact the pandemic may have had.

"Where it is needed, we will continue to provide support to families so that all students have access to an iPad and no child is left out."

They said of safety fears: "The safety of students is our highest priority. Children receive guidance on how to stay safe on their journey to and from school and procedures are in place to ensure students remain safe.

"To date, there hasn't been a single safety incident and no iPads have been stolen."