We’ve gone 1:1 with school owned Chromebooks. Here’s how we deal with repairs, insurance, and theft.

I’m running a pilot project to give all of our students and teachers their own personal Chromebook from school budget. No parental leasing or contributions — we want there to be no barrier to access. But with that comes several issues, the biggest of which is repair costs and damage. Ultimately we want all of our 900 students to have a school provided Chromebook that they can take home, but what happens if that Chromebook gets damaged, stolen, or lost? The school owns the hardware, so who covers the cost and is insurance a factor?

Insurance and Warranty

Because the cost of each Chromebook is so low — around £150 per unit — it simply wasn’t worth taking out additional insurance or warranty cover. Some insurance estimates we received almost doubled the device cost — we could literally buy a brand new Chromebook for the same price. Even if we had to replace 50% of the Chromebooks given out, we’d still be spending less money than if we’d taken out insurance, and we won’t have to deal with all the red tape.


Most of the repairs we deal with in-house. We have a solid team of technicians who can swap out most parts, and the benefit of Chromebooks is that they’re really easy to take apart — we can replace a screen in less than 5 minutes. Parts are also really cheap, we can pick up a replacement screen for around £30.

If a cracked screen comes in we hand the student another Chromebook and off they go leaving us to deal with the repair. The most important thing is that they student is never disadvantaged for genuine accidents. The process has to be seamless.

We have also organised with the Chromebook manufacturer to get our technicians certified to carry out warranty repairs. Once this has been completed we’ll be able to do Chromebook repairs without breaking warranty and have direct access to official parts at a reduced price.

When do we charge students?

We don’t charge students to repair genuine accidents, only where we believe the device to have been treated badly. Yes, there are Chromebooks dropped, sat on, and knocked, but we deal with these within the school budget. The outlay has been a fraction of our desktop repair costs. We have greater potential for damage, but repair costs are significantly less per device.

We’ve also found that students are very precious of their Chromebooks. They may be school property but just like their mobile phone the Chromebook is a very personal device for students and they look after them well.

Chromebook — the disposable computer

The price and transportability of data makes the Chromebook an almost disposable computer. Swap outs take seconds, repairs minutes, and the costs are low. In the first month we spent £90 on repairs for a fleet of 300 Chromebooks. This will increase as the devices age, but even if we had to completely replace 50% of devices the next 3 years we’d still have spent less than we usually spend on our desktop refresh plan. For us the Chromebook is the perfect device. How about you?

Check out our 2014 Schools Chromebook Buyers Guide.


About Author

Profile photo of Karl Rivers

Karl is an award winning Director of IT for the Royal Grammar School Guildford, based near London, England. He has been working in education for more than ten years and founded ClassThink in 2013 to share technology best practice with other schools. In 2014 he won the NAACE Impact Award for support services in schools, and writes edtech articles for Education Executive Magazine.


  1. Profile photo of Jamie Thompson

    This is fascinating to read. One thing which jumps out at me is the fact that the students take ownership of their own Chromebooks and care for them in ways that they wouldn’t necessarily do with trolley-based laptops or fixed desktops. I would imagine that being trusted with a laptop of their own gives them a great sense of empowerment.

    What’s your expected lifespan for each Chromebook? Would you be using them long enough for their batteries to need replacement after a few years, or would you be replacing the whole Chromebook with something newer before the battery has a chance to become jaded?

    • Profile photo of Karl Rivers

      We anticipated and budgeted for a degree of damage, mainly based on the experiences of other schools with 1:1 devices, but I’ve been very surprised at how few repairs we’ve had. The students really see them as their own devices and look after them as such.

      Ideally we want them to last 4 years, but this is a trial so the proof will be in the eating. The benefit of Chromebooks is that they’re really cheap, so if they we have to swap out a percentage of them it’s not going to break the bank. We’ve accounted for some replacements in the budget.

      I’ll let you know how we get on — we need to organise a visit. Give me a call, text, or email!


  2. Gayle Thrasher on

    My in laws have a Walmart Chromebook and one of their dogs knocked it on the floor and then someone stepped on the power jack and plug. The plug survived. I replaced the power jack, but the battery now seems dead. I was hoping that it could be run from the AC adapter, but it doesn’t. It is out of warranty. This Chromebook has an internal battery and since I had the laptop open to change out the power jack (which just snaps in), I have tried disconnecting the battery and then holding down the power button to drain residual power, Then I tried to power up again, but it still won’t power with the battery or ac. Since it seems like you guys have some expertise with a lot of these machines, do you have any advice? Do these computers only run with the battery and not with the ac? Thanks. Interesting news story, too.

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