Many more school pupils in Hull will reap the benefits of having access to their own laptops, as Hull City Council’s Cabinet has today agreed to fund an additional 1,000 laptops through £250,000 from the Outbreak Management Fund.
The devices will be provided to schools and Academy Trusts in Hull, who will loan them to students who have been identified as not having access to a device.
An ‘Every Child Connected’ working group was set up earlier this year with the ambition that every child attending a Hull school, aged eight to 16, will have access to a laptop by September 2021.
The group, comprising Academy Trusts and Council representatives, established that 14 percent of pupils, some 3,681 young people, were without access to a device at home.
In March, local food company Cranswick donated 1,156 laptops, reducing the number of pupils that don’t have access to a device to 2,681 – ten percent of Hull’s students aged eight to sixteen. 27 primary schools in East Hull benefited from Cranswick’s donation.
The additional purchase of 1,000 laptops by the Council means the number of pupils without a laptop has further reduced to 1,681.
The Council is now appealing to local businesses to ask if they can also help by supporting the scheme to ‘bridge the gap’ in their local communities and collectively provide the rest of the devices needed.
Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Councillor Shane McMurray said: “For our younger generation, it’s vital that every child has the ability to use the technology that can mitigate our geographical location and connect them to the wider region, country and world. As Covid has disrupted everyone’s routines, it has clearly impacted the ability of our poorer children to access education and has highlighted the digital divide in our city.
“This scheme is not just to support our young people during Covid, it’s to support them in their education and learning over the months and years ahead. As more and more of education, social and economic life takes place online, it’s vital our young people are not cut out from a progressive technological future; leaving them behind. I wholeheartedly welcome this funding on behalf of those young people in Hull who will benefit.”
Jo Moxon, Head of Education in Hull said: “Online learning is here to stay, and is important for catch up, recovery from the pandemic and for future learning. The devices are now also used in schools, ensuring children continue to develop their IT skills and are fully prepared should any bubbles close.
“We are speaking with businesses who may be able to help with further donations, with a focus on the west and north of the city. We are also in talks with internet providers to address the lack of internet connectivity, which affects around six percent of pupils in Hull.”
Laptops will be distributed by schools ready for the start of the new school year in September.
Any business that is able to help further ‘bridge the digital divide’ should contact CovidEd@hullcc.gov.uk.