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William Ellis School aims to raise £30k for pupils’ laptops

William Ellis looks to bridge digital divide

06 July, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

PARENTS and governors from a school in Highgate are calling for donations to a fundraising drive to help heal the “digital divide”. William Ellis School is aiming to raise £30,000 to provide laptops to those with no access at home.

Selina Skipwith, an arts governor at William Ellis School, said: “Like all state schools in Camden, we have been struggling with Covid and the digital divide. The school has been fantastic and when we went into the lockdown they loaned laptops we had in the buildings to those who needed them. But there are others who have limited access. We reckon there are about 90 students who have no access to a device and just over 400 have access to a shared device at home.”

Ms Skipwith said it is understood that the government has allocated 34 laptops for pupils at William Ellis but they have not received any yet.

Juliet Bingham, a parent at William Ellis, said: “The Covid crisis has highlighted there is already a divide and some are really struggling because they don’t have access to resources their peers do.  Many more people are talking about blended learning – this idea that going forward students and teachers will be using this combination of online learning and classroom lessons.”

“One of the things we have been conscious about is these students have been disadvantaged since schools closed in March and we are still unsure about what will happen in September. The parent governor body are calling on alumni from the school to come forward in support of the drive to provide laptops to those in need.”

It comes after headteacher at Highgate School, Adam Pettit, helped raise £60,000 to provide 200 devices for students at LaSWAP Sixth Form. And another fundraising drive was launched by two students at La Sainte Union to raise money for devices.

Camden Council is calling on local businesses to donate spare devices with the target of collecting 2,300 devices for the borough’s schoolchildren.

Around 65 per cent of primary schoolchildren have no internet or computer access at home.

At Monday’s Covid oversight committee at the Town Hall, education chief Councillor Angela Mason said: “What’s happened is that an inequality which was there all the time, an inequality of access to digital learning, has become very much more prominent because of the Covid situation and how it’s impacted on schools and children’s learning.”

She added: “I think it’s going to need a stronger corporate response. The business community has stepped up and provided devices. What we need to do, I think now, is to raise money corporately so that schools can buy and have access to these resources. Schools, even though they are skint, are thinking of using their money to buy devices for students but I would like to see a response to raise the money so we have some common equality to digital learning. It’s been a very big issue for all our schools.”

Education secretary Gavin Williamson had promised to deliver the devices at the end of May and throughout June.  A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The department is prioritising the delivery of devices to the most vulnerable children first – children with a social worker and care leavers. We will do whatever we can to make sure no child, whatever their background, falls behind as a result of coronavirus.”

If you would like to donate to the appeal, go to the web link posted up at: virginmoneygiving.com/fund/homelearninglaptops



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