'We need 10,000 more laptops for children' Tower Hamlets schools plead

Year 4 pupil Sayef gets laptop at Lansbury Lawrence School

Year 4 pupil Sayef receives a laptop at Lansbury Lawrence School to take home - Credit: Rehan Jamil

A £1million appeal to get every child a computer so they can learn online has been launched in Tower Hamlets schools. 

It aims to "end digital disadvantage” in the East End by making sure all children have digital devices and internet connection.

The campaign by the Tower Hamlets Education Partnership charity involves the local authority and Community Fibre broadband provider to get computers into every child's home.

"It’s important that they're able to get online for their education," the charity's Brendan Crossan said. “There is no doubt that Covid-19 may continue to have an impact on children’s learning."

Zainab and Year 5 chums at Lansbury Lawrence School get laptops to take home paid for by Letta Trust, Poplar Harca housing...

Zainab and her Year 5 chums at Lansbury Lawrence School were given laptops to take home paid for by Letta Trust, Poplar Harca housing and East End Community Foundation with Community Fibre broadband - Credit: Rehan Jamil

The move follows a survey of schools which estimated that 10,000 computers are needed in addition to those already provided by the Department of Education. 

The council has earmarked £50,000 towards the appeal while also distributing 9,000 laptops from the government with a further 250 it has donated directly. 

Mayor John Biggs who has endorsed the campaign said: "Every day of learning lost is a barrier those households that are digitally disadvantaged. Getting children online is essential to realise their potential.”  

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The partnership is appealing for cash and laptop donations "to level up the digital divide” in the East End between children who have online learning and those without it. 

Community Fibre was the first fixed broadband provider to offer one-year free broadband to vulnerable households to help home schooling through the lockdown.  

But there is still a gulf between those with internet and those who find themselves "on the wrong side of this digital divide" which educators fear will widen and lead to further inequality. 

The partnership, a schools company with charitable status, is making a public appeal for online donations as well as corporate gifts of cash or devices by email to: everychildonline@towerhamlets.gov.uk.  

Education achievement over the past 20 years has risen despite the East End's social deprivation, the partnership points out. Youngsters from poor backgrounds score better than the national average in the Three Rs by the time they finish primary school and are usually above average at 16. But they need that extra help during lockdown.