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‘It has made a big difference’: Poplar pupils get connected with free laptops to help with home schooling

PUBLISHED: 12:00 26 June 2020

Shyla Williams receives the tech she needs to help with home schooling. Picture: Rehan Jamil

Shyla Williams receives the tech she needs to help with home schooling. Picture: Rehan Jamil

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Families are receiving free laptops and broadband to help stop children falling further behind as schools stay closed in the coronavirus pandemic.

Headteacher Jeremy Iver, mum Sultana Yasmin and her son Idrees. Picture: Rehan JamilHeadteacher Jeremy Iver, mum Sultana Yasmin and her son Idrees. Picture: Rehan Jamil

More than half of pupils in many East End schools do not have access to devices to help them access online learning and stay in touch with their teachers.

Research completed for the Sutton Trust shows that in the most deprived schools, only 16 per cent of pupils are taking part in lessons online every day, worsening the attainment gap between the poorest and richest children.

But that looks set to change thanks to a partnership between LETTA Trust Schools, Tower Hamlets Council, Poplar HARCA, East End Community Foundation (EECF) and broadband provider Community Fibre.

The organisations have teamed up with Morgan Stanley and the Lehman Foundation, backing the scheme to the tune of £100,000, to support 200 families. The goal is for 10,000 East End families to benefit.

Mr Iver presents Aisha with the all important kit as mum, Ryana Awan, looks on. Picture: Rehan JamilMr Iver presents Aisha with the all important kit as mum, Ryana Awan, looks on. Picture: Rehan Jamil

Jo Franklin, from the LETTA Trust, said: “This is a long term solution to tackle the digital divide and minimise the impact of the pandemic on educational achievement.”

The trust runs Bygrove Primary in Bygrove Street and Stebon Primary in Wallwood Street, both in Poplar.

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When lockdown began, teachers began setting work via the internet.

200 families are set to receive laptops and internet to help children do work online. Picture: Rehan Jamil200 families are set to receive laptops and internet to help children do work online. Picture: Rehan Jamil

But for access children needed a device, internet connection and someone at home to help. Within days the trust found some struggled so it set up the project.

Stacee Fem has a daughter aged eight and a son aged seven at Stebon Primary School.

She said: “It has made a big difference to the whole family. It’s been such a struggle.”

Tower Hamlets mayor, John Biggs, said: “Finding ways to address the digital divide has never been more important. I’m pleased we are able to support this project.”

Babu Bhattacherjee, from Poplar HARCA, said: “The pandemic is having the most profound impact on the most disadvantaged in our community.

“Improving digital access and skills has the potential to have a life-changing effect.”

Tracey Walsh, of EECF said: “Having information at our fingertips is something many of us take for granted, so I’m pleased the partnership can make this a reality for others.”

Graeme Oxby, from Community Fibre said: “We are delighted to be working with our partners to support education during this difficult time.”


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