'Laptop bonanza' for schoolchildren in Poplar to help survive lockdown gloom

Lansbury Lawrence school given free laptops

Delight at Lansbury Lawrence school being given free laptops to work at home - Credit: Rehan Jamil

More children have been given laptops to work from home with East End schools in lockdown. 

Youngsters from two primary schools in Poplar benefited from the latest round of laptops being handed out by Harca housing organisation and Community Fibre internet provider. 

London, United Kingdom - Thursday 10 December 2020, EECF - Connecting Communities, families at Clara

Year 6 pupil Majella gets a pile of laptops from Tower Hamlets councillor Danny Hassell, cabinet member for schools, for pupils at Clara Grant School - Credit: Rehan Jamil

The laptops were distributed to pupils of Lansbury Lawrence and Clara Grant schools, bringing the number of families who have received free laptops and training in the programme to 230. 

“Digital inclusion must be a priority,” Clara Grant’s headteacher Karen Symons said. “Reaching the internet is essential to allow families access to services and online learning.  

“Having this support has meant we’ve been able to reduce the ‘digital divide’ in the community.”  

London, United Kingdom - Thursday 10 December 2020, EECF - Connecting Communities, families at Lansb

Tug o' war between Arafat and Asiya from Lansbury Lawrence School over who gets to use the laptop first - Credit: Rehan Jamil

Her call to close the gap was endorsed by Lansbury Lawrence headteacher Owen O'Regan, whose pupils were also included in the laptop handout. He predicted: “It’s going to make a real difference to those who need it most during this difficult time. Community support like this is what makes Tower Hamlets a special place.” 

The scheme, started in June, is a partnership of Poplar Harca, Letta Trust, Tower Hamlets Council and the East End Community Foundation with Community Fibre online operators. It follows a successful pilot with Bygrove and Stebon schools.  

London, United Kingdom - Thursday 10 December 2020, EECF - Connecting Communities, families at Clara

Majella gets a laptop at Clara Grant School - Credit: ©Rehan Jamil

More than half the pupils in Tower Hamlets schools don’t have computers which educators say is essential for learning and staying connected.  Only 16pc take part in online lessons each day, researchers have found, largely due to poverty which is said to widen the gap between poorest and richest children. The partnership aims to close “this digital divide”.

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The scheme has delighted many families in Poplar. One of the mums, Sheena Ram, said: “I never had broadband at my flat. My daughter had issues, but has now completed her classwork and also does other activities on the laptop.”  

London, United Kingdom - Thursday 10 December 2020, EECF - Connecting Communities, families at Lansb

Sayef, in Year 4 at Lansbury Lawrence School, can't wait to get home with his new laptop. - Credit: Rehan Jamil

The free laptops mean children can continue lessons at home during lockdown and also improve social inclusion with their class pals via video streaming as well as extracurricular activities like even learning a new language. They also give their parents a chance to look for jobs or training and reach essential services easily, which organisers say makes life “simpler and more efficient”.  

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