“In the middle of April, I could not envisage a time when we would have all our students back in school accessing a full curriculum offer. Yet, since September, that is exactly what we have achieved.”
It’s been an extraordinary return to the classroom for children, families and teachers this term. The message above was sent out to parents and carers from one of our local headteachers on the final day, but could have been communicated by all of them. The levels of commitment and compassion to achieve what they’ve done in supporting children and colleagues through such difficult circumstances has proved their superstar status in our eyes.
Amongst the preparations and endless hours of care to make sure that schools continue to be a safe and happy place to learn and work, we’re aware of how much commitment and time is being given to priorities alongside teaching the curriculum. Additional pastoral care, continued emphasis on staff wellbeing, making sure that children and families have enough food every day and the huge task of track and trace in school are just a small number of the plates that headteachers are spinning each day.
How is all of this relevant to us and you reading this post?
We want to continue to support the ever-growing list of headteachers across the region who are asking us for help with devices. They’re aware of how the digital divide is impacting on children and families in their own communities and have shared their individual situations through our survey:
100% of headteachers responding to our survey say that access to technology during Covid-19 is critical to the learning experience of our children. They have also told us that the DfE’s ‘laptops for disadvantaged students’ scheme will not redress the home access imbalance at their school.
Those reflections above were submitted before the devastating news that came after 18:00 on the final Friday of the half-term. Headteachers opened up their email inbox to see an update from the Department for Education about a reduced allocation of promised laptops for disadvantaged children, seemingly around 20% of what they’d originally been assigned.
Reaction to the news from teachers has been heartfelt, as they recognise how the scale of the crisis created by Covid 19 has laid bare needs across society and it’s impact on children in their care.
“We are changing the way we are allocating laptops.” YEAHHH, I thought, until I saw we have been cut from 61 to 13! Absolute jokers – remote learning!” Chris Dyson, Headteacher from Parklands Primary in Leeds.
The scale of support needed to provide every child with a digital device and enough data to learn has escalated again. We need your help to support our amazing teachers and headteachers across the region.
As school leaders continue to work tirelessly to provide an education for every child, the government keeps on moving the goalposts. Only this week the Department for Education guidance kicked in to say that every child should have immediate access to remote learning from home if they need to isolate. Just 24 hours later, headteachers got the news that their allocation of laptops had been slashed.
How can you help?
We know that teachers and school leaders will be continuing their work throughout the half term. Rightly or wrongly, it’s a profession that takes the care of children and their communities seriously and we know how little time they’ve taken to fully relax this year. What can we do in the next 7 days to support their return to the classroom this time?
- If you’ve got a working laptop or tablet computer that you don’t use any more, Windows 7 or above and up to 4 years old, please consider donating it through this form.
- If you’re a business with a number of available devices that we could repurpose for schools please get in touch. We’d love to hear from and share examples of how we’ve worked with other industry partners to reduce inequalities to access an education in our city.
- If you’re a teacher, school governor or parent/carer reading this then please encourage your school to complete our access survey to contribute to a true picture about digital inequalities across the region.
Header image August de Richelieu from Pexels.