Isle of Dogs school first to benefit from laptop donation scheme
- Credit: Cubitt TOwn Infants School
An Isle of Dogs primary school was the first to benefit from a partnership aimed at ensuring schoolchildren have access to the technology they need to learn.
Year 2 pupils at Cubitt Town Infants' School received iPads as part of a collaboration between social enterprise TechInclusionUK and the Tower Hamlets Education Partnership (THE Partnership).
The emergence of remote learning - brought about by coronavirus - has heightened the risk of a technological gap. This reality is what prompted TechInclusionUK's founder, Rich Clensy, to go down this road: "We spoke to teachers about their experience when schools were closed; many said they spent a lot of time printing off education packs."
This showed that a number of children don't have the technology needed to learn remotely. Rather than try to bridge that gap through fundraising, Rich and co-founder Collette Nabyonga began approaching companies in the hope of receiving donated devices.
The strategy worked, and what started as a modest 15 laptops soon scaled towards 150.
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This growth coincided with the involvement of the THE Partnership, which works with 96 member schools to create the best learning environment. Its executive director Tracy Smith said the project is vital in "helping to provide access for those pupils who need devices".
The infants' school executive headteacher, Robyn Bruce, is thrilled her pupils were top of the list: "It's been brilliant. Infant schools aren't typically as well-funded in terms of IT, but we don’t want children to start off behind.”
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Ms Bruce is frank about the challenges of online learning: "Going remote is fine if you’re from an affluent area.”
With that in mind, it's far from a given that every child in Tower Hamlets will have the technology they need, making this project a real lifeline: "If there are companies who are willing to sponsor schools, it could give many children a lifetime outcome.”
Though TechInclusionUK is still in its infancy, Rich is already thinking about the next mission - connectivity: "Providing laptops is important, but it's hard if a child doesn't have WIFI at home."