Children in Dumbarton and the Vale have been left sharing devices or unable to afford Wifi for remote schooling during the Covid pandemic, according to freedom of information statistics.

Data gathered by investigative journalism platform The Ferret revealed that vulnerable pupils in West Dunbartonshire were left without internet access or devices for online schooling.

It was announced by the Scottish Government that centralised funding was supposed to provide digitally excluded pupils in the local authority area with internet access such as wifi routers and devices to help with remote lessons during the pandemic.

Over the last year the Scottish Government has used a combination of funding streams and announced a £25million investment in May 2020 as part of a drive to tackle digital exclusion.

Each council’s share was distributed on the basis of free school meals in the local authority.

West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) officials confirmed with the Reporter that they received a share of £418,000 which they used to purchase Chromebook devices from both the Scottish Government and an external supplier.

However the statistics reveal that WDC only gave out 358 government-funded devices which equates to 28 devices per thousand pupils in the local authority.

In addition, it has been revealed that only 122 “connectivity solutions” such as wifi routers per 10,000 pupils were distributed to much-needed families in West Dunbartonshire.

One parent who wishes to remain unidentified said online schooling was a nightmare for their daughter who had to face starting their first year of secondary school during the first lockdown in March last year.

They told the Reporter: “At first it wasn’t so bad because I had the laptop and an iPad, so we could both remote work.

"We didn’t need to borrow a device from the school because we were prepared for remote working, but no one tells you how difficult it actually can be.

"My wifi was struggling to cope as we were constantly at home.

“And to make matters worse in June last year, the iPad stopped working and I couldn’t afford to get a new one.

“My life has just been a nightmare. I have had to work late in the evenings to catch up with my work as my daughter needed the laptop for schooling during the day.

"It took us two months to receive help and in this time my daughter has had to suffer because of it.

"It simply isn’t good enough. I don’t even want to imagine what kids going through exams must feel.”

A spokesperson from West Dunbartonshire Council said: “We are committed to ensuring all our children and young people have suitable tools to progress their education, both in school and during periods of remote learning.

“As part of funding allocated to us by the Scottish Government, we invested in a range of digital devices for distribution to families across the area.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “These figures cover the £25m investment announced in May last year. Given that schools know their learners and families best, local authorities themselves were responsible for identifying those in need of support and for securing and distributing devices and connectivity solutions using allocated funding.”