CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Businesses urged to help children without computers at home by donating ipads and laptops

Pupils at risk of missing out on online learning help

26 April, 2020

BUSINESSES and tech companies are being urged to help schoolchildren whose learning is most at risk of being affected by the coronavirus outbreak by donating laptops and iPads.

If they can get online, pupils will benefit from accessing key learning resources while schools remained closed due to the ongoing lockdown measures.

In many schools across Camden over half of pupils do not have access to a device at home. Data indicates as many as 65% pupils in some primary schools and 25% in some secondary schools don’t have access to technology at home.

Teachers are interacting with their pupils online during the lockdown in an attempt to limit the amount of learning which is lost. Families without computers at home are more likely to suffer most from the shutdown, the council said.

Helen Connor, headteacher at Rhyl Primary School in Gospel Oak, said: “Over half of our pupils are unable to access and engage in home learning as they do not have a device at home. These are our disadvantaged pupils. With schools likely to remain closed well into the summer term, the gap between disadvantaged families and others will get wider and consequently the attainment gap will only increase.

She added: “Disadvantaged children rely on the school to provide almost all their learning opportunities as most of our parents are not able to support at home. Whilst the school is trying to make adaptations, we are already only too aware of the inequality for many families who are completely unable to engage at all in home learning, which will have a significant impact on the learning of our children and their future educational opportunities.”

Council leader Labour councillor Georgia Gould said: “I’m incredibly proud of the way our school community has responded to this pandemic to ensure all young people continue to receive a high-quality education. During this time of huge uncertainty, schools have quickly moved to online teaching and provided extensive support for their students as well as their families.”

“However, I’m concerned about the impact of the digital divide will have on our young people, between those who can and cannot access learning based on whether their family can afford a device or internet connectivity in their home. We are hearing from many children and families who don’t have any access to online learning. We welcome the recognition from Government that access to internet and digital devices is a barrier to education for many children and young people, however we think we need to go further to make sure this crisis doesn’t leave any child behind.”

She added: “Now more than ever we must work together as a community to give all young people access to the opportunities and support they need. That’s why we’re calling on businesses to help us enable all young people in Camden to access education during this challenging time.”

If a business has laptops or iPads that they can donate to a school in Camden, council officials will collect the laptops and work with schools to distribute them to children who most need them.

Companies can also make financial donations and sponsor schools to help purchase or repurpose laptops for students.

Donations should include at least 20 units with devices which are configured reset to factory settings, free from any donor data, and not older than 5 years.

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