An appeal for businesses and people to donate laptops for youngsters being home schooled in Cumbria has reached half of its target.
The Cumbria Alliance of System Leaders, which brings together senior school leaders from around the county, issued an appeal in January after research by schools showed around 1,500 children and young people did not have access at home to the ICT equipment they need to fully participate in home learning.
The campaign has so far delivered around half of this target, but CASL is urging any other local people or businesses that may be able to help, to get in touch, and help meet the target as soon as possible.
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 many pupils have an urgent need for this equipment right now.
Judith Schafer, chair of CASL 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. I am hugely encouraged by the support from several local organisations so far.”
Some of the organisations that have played a key role in helping to deliver over 700 laptops so far, include BAE Systems, Cockermouth Rotary Club, Mary Grave Trust, Arup, Workington Town Council, the Freemasons and Maryport Town Council.
Councillor Sue Sanderson, cabinet member for schools and learning at Cumbria County Council, said: “This fantastic initiative from CASL has my full support, and I am very grateful to all involved for the laptops donated so far.
“Pupils simply cannot wait for the national programme to deliver more laptops – their 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 please get in touch.”
Isaac Mulholland is a 10-year-old pupil at George Romney Junior School that has received one of the laptops. Isaac said:
“Lockdown has been tough for everybody, but my school made it a lot better by giving me a brand-new laptop to do my school work.
“With one laptop in a house of five, it was difficult but getting a second one has been a blessing.
“Now I can do work at the same time as my siblings, and we don’t have to take turns. I am also able to hear my teachers a lot better with the new laptop, so it makes home learning a lot easier!”
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.