Coronavirus: Council launches scheme to help vulnerable students access online learning

Camden based businesses and tech companies are being asked to back a scheme to help schoolchildren whose learning is most affected by the coronavirus outbreak by donating laptops and iPads.

The Council is encouraging businesses in the borough to donate spare laptops and iPads for students to use at home, allowing them to have access to vital online learning while schools are closed.

In many schools across Camden over half of pupils do not have access to a device to carry out essential home learning and interact with their teachers. Data indicates as many as 65% pupils in some primary schools and 25% in some secondary schools do not have access to technology at home.

This initiative aims to help vulnerable students without access to a device and address the digital divide caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Council and Camden Learning are also working with schools, community groups and local businesses to find ways to ensure pupils have a Wi-Fi connection in their homes.

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.

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.
Helen Connor, Headteacher at Rhyl Primary School
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.

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.
Cllr Georgia Gould, Leader of the Council

If a business has laptops or iPads that they can donate to a school in Camden that meet some simple criteria, we 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.

UPDATE (23/11/20): This campaign has now been replaced by Camden Learning's Crowdfunder to raise money to buy new laptops for Camden pupils. Find out more here.