Cumbria’s schools are appealing to local people and businesses to donate laptops for use by school pupils who are now learning from home due to lockdown.
The Cumbria Alliance of System Leaders, which brings together senior school leaders from around the county, has issued the appeal after research by schools showed around 1,500 children and young people do not have access at home to the IT equipment they need to fully participate in home learning.
While the Government has committed to providing more laptops to children who need them, experience so far is that delivery has taken considerable time. But pupils have an urgent need for equipment right now.
Judith Schafer, alliance chair and headteacher at Solway Community College, said: “Without the right ICT equipment at home it’s so hard for pupils to engage in home learning.
“Working from a smartphone or tablet is really difficult and means pupils struggle to engage.
“Even in homes where there is a computer, it may be being shared between siblings all trying to do lessons at the same time.
“Getting each child that needs one their own laptop will transform what they can achieve at home, and that is so important given the disruption pupils have already experienced and the uncertainty about the future.
“We’re trying to act local, act fast and get laptops distributed in days, not months. And I am hugely encouraged that we’ve already had expressions of support from several local organisations.”
BAE Systems Submarines in Barrow is inviting its employees to donate their unwanted personal IT equipment to the scheme.
Amy Lamph, education and skills corporate responsibility management advisor at BAE Systems, said: “We’re delighted to again be supporting education in Cumbria through encouraging our employees to donate.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has meant many more pupils being educated at home much more often, so the need for laptops has never been more important.”
Councillor Sue Sanderson, cabinet member for schools and learning at Cumbria County Council, said: “This is fantastic initiative from CASL that has my full support.
“Pupils simply cannot wait for the national programme to deliver more laptops, the need is now.
“I’d encourage businesses to look at what they have spare or surplus to requirements and if it meets the minimum specification, then get in touch.”
Donated laptops can be new or used but must be fully functional, meet a minimum specification, and have all data wiped before donation.
“All laptops will be checked before they are then loaned to children who need them.
The minimum specification is:
- Laptop, not PC
- Intel Dual Core i3 processor
- 4GB RAM
Anyone who thinks they can support this appeal should visit cumbria.gov.uk/laptopsforschools for information on how to donate.