IT HAS emerged that the deputy CEO of a Halesowen education trust which is asking parents to buy £510 iPads went on a trip to visit Apple HQ in California.

Dawn Haywood, of Windsor Academy Trust, visited Apple's corporate HQ Apple Park in San Francisco February 2020.

She was invited to take part in the trip by Whole Education, which invited "20 trust leaders involved in the ‘Leading a whole education at trusts’ programme to engage in a four-day study visit and education meeting with Apple in San Francisco, USA."

Whole Education stated on its website: "The trust leaders flew over 5000 miles across the world, without so much as an agenda, to find out more about what makes Apple – Apple and how this could support their mission to lead a family of schools that provides excellent outcomes but is not solely defined by doing so."

Halesowen News:

Above: A tweet by Dawn Haywood about her trip to California

From September, all students in years 4 and 5 at Windsor Academy Trust's 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.

Its nine schools include Windsor High, Manor Way Primary, Tenterfields Primary, Colley Lane Primary Academy and Kingswinford Academy.

In 2020 the trust had 21 staff who were paid above £60k a year. The top earner was on between 150-160k with the second top earner in the £130-140k bracket. One staff member was paid between £110-120k and three staff were paid between 100-110k.

A story by the news last week generated a huge response on social media with more than 160 comments, with some concerned parents revealing they would have to buy more than one device.

One said: "2 iPads and 2 high school uniforms I could be up to about £1,300 for September."

Another said: "I’ve got two to buy for September if I go ahead but agree it’s outrageous to expect parents to fund this!"

One commentor said: "If they are essential for school and are the schools choice as to how they deliver learning, there is no question that school should fund them. Outrageous that parents have to pay!"

An online petition on calling for the school "stop the expectation of parents to fund these items immediately and for the school to re-evaluate their position on this and come back to parents with an alternative idea" has garnered more than 4,400 signatures.

It states: "Parents are worried, some are having to face the decision of lowering their already impossible food budget per month to afford the iPads.

"Some are just too embarrassed to ask for help and some are just sat wondering how on earth they can afford this and not feel like they have let their children down.

"No parent should EVER be put in this position."

A spokesman for Windsor Academy Trust said: "Over 1,000 of our students are already benefitting from iPads for Learning, and it has had a significant positive impact, helping children to thrive in their learning and through inspiring learning experiences."

They added: "Our Deputy CEO and Education Director has spoken regularly on national platforms about the use of digital technology in education and was invited to join the International Leaders Programme.

"This included joining a number of school leaders from across the country overseas.

"The international Leaders Programme has involved many groups of leaders from the UK over the years.

"We have recently invested significantly in digital technology and it is not possible for the schools to fund the purchase of individual iPads for every student to use in school and at home without parental contributions from those who can afford it.

"We value the strong relationships we have with parents, and 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. "We encourage any parent who has questions to contact their school for support."