Laptops for Kids has joined forces with local authorities to buy nearly 7,000 devices for South Yorkshire – enough to supply most of the households in need across the county.
The charitable organisation has sourced a supply of child-friendly laptops from Dell Technologies to enable children to access remote learning during the pandemic.
The councils of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield are securing these devices to distribute to schools across their local communities. Schools will share the laptops with households in need.
Laptops for Kids launched in Sheffield in September 2020 in response to the number of households unable to take part in online lessons and has expanded to other northern towns and cities.
The Children’s Commissioner has estimated that nine per cent of families are without a laptop, desktop or tablet at home.
Technology entrepreneur David Richards, who co-founded the campaign, said: “While it is welcome news that schools are reopening, we have to be prepared for more disruption in the coming months.
“Children must be able to safely access technology at home so they can keep up with their education and develop digital skills for the future.
“We applaud local government leaders in South Yorkshire for stepping up to meet the need and invest in the next generation of successful young people.”
Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “Our young people have been hit hard by Covid, with many experiencing almost a year of disruption to their learning.
“Here in South Yorkshire we’re leading the way on tackling digital exclusion. In partnership with our local councils and Laptops for Kids, we’re ensuring that every young person has a brand-new laptop and internet connection – to minimise disruption to their education.
“I’ve always said that where you grow up should not determine where you end up, and I’m proud that we’re making that a reality in South Yorkshire.”
Barnsley Council is investing in 1,400 laptops. Councillor Margaret Bruff, Barnsley Council’s Cabinet spokesperson for Children’s Services, said: “Children’s education is a top priority for Barnsley Council and we are pleased that we have invested in child-friendly laptops in partnership with our schools.
“This will make sure that every child and young person in the borough has digital access for remote learning to support their education and catch up on lost learning following the impact of the pandemic.
“This scheme will supplement our work from last summer, which saw us distribute 677 laptops and 122 4G modems to children in the borough who were without digital access at home during the height of the pandemic.”
Doncaster Council is investing in 895 laptops. Mayor Ros Jones said: “I am really pleased to support this initiative as it provides much-needed IT kit and connectivity for those children who have struggled to access online learning.
“Without this investment many children would have slipped behind in their lessons and learning. While all children will be going back to school on Monday, it will provide increased opportunity and increase digital literacy going forward.
“We are grateful to Laptops For Kids for involving us in this opportunity alongside our regional colleagues to acquire the required hardware and we hope for this relationship to continue.”
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council is investing in 500 laptops, on top of the 1,500 donated by local employer AESSEAL plc. Councillor Gordon Watson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said: “We are delighted once again to be teaming up with Laptops for Kids to distribute a further 500 laptops to children in Rotherham, bringing the total number of children supported who would not otherwise have had access to online learning to more than 2,000.
“With disruption to in-school learning likely to continue in the immediate future, this will provide a lifeline to learning for children. I am proud that the laptop rollout in Rotherham has been a true community effort between the council, local business and the Laptops for Kids charity.”
Sheffield City Council is investing in 3,000 Dell devices and 1,000 refurbished laptops. Councillor Abtisam Mohamed, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills said: “Over the past few months, children, teachers, parents and carers have had to adapt very quickly to lockdown and home-schooling.
“Not all children in Sheffield were able to get access to laptops or working connections which is why I was so passionate about this initiative and wanted Sheffield to get involved.
“The response to the Laptops for Kids campaign from the people of Sheffield and the business community has been phenomenal, we have seen thousands of devices already pledged, which has gone a long way to supporting children and their families to continue their studies at home.
“We know that the digital divide runs much deeper than this and I continue to urge our local businesses and the people of Sheffield to support the amazing work of this brilliant campaign.”
AESSEAL, a global manufacturing group headquartered in Rotherham, has also donated £100,000 to buy dongles for connecting 10,000 households to the internet.
Notes to Editors:
Laptops for Kids partners include Blancco plc, the global leader in certified data erasure, Twinkl, the online educational publisher, WANdisco plc, the data software company jointly headquartered in Sheffield and Silicon Valley, the BBC Make a Difference initiative, Natterhub, an educational social media platform, and the non-political Northern Powerhouse Partnership.
Laptops for Kids aims to help children in areas of need access the technology required to continue with their education during the pandemic. The campaign was established by David Richards, founder and CEO of WANdisco plc, and Nancy Fielder, editor of The Star newspaper in Sheffield.
For more information, please visit www.LTFK.co.uk