700 laptops issued to vulnerable South Tyneside children locked out of learning during pandemic
September 2020 marked the first time in months most pupils in the borough had seen the inside of a classroom, following the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.
While teachers did their best over lockdown to keep lessons and education going, many youngsters faced challenges due to lack of personal computers or internet access.
But thanks to a Government scheme 130 WiFi dongles and 700 laptops and tablets were provided to borough families.
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Cllr Moira Smith, South Tyneside Council’s cabinet member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “We applied to the government for those during lockdown.
It was for children who did not have access to them at home and so couldn’t do all the home learning that other children were doing.
“We asked the schools to give numbers for children who might need them, we got them, sorted them out and handed them to the schools, who handed them to the children.
“We wanted to make sure every child in the borough had access to home learning.”
Cllr Smith was speaking at a meeting of the borough council’s People Select Committee, which was held remotely and broadcast via YouTube.
Schools can apply for equipment through the scheme for children aged up to 16 and whose face to face education has been ‘disrupted’ by the pandemic, such as those who have been advised to shield, and who does not have access to any other appropriate technology.
Between May and July 2020, the Department for Education provided devices to councils and academy trusts for children, families and young adults most in need.
For the 2020 to 2021 academic year, more laptops and tablets have been made available for disadvantaged children in certain year groups who are affected by disruption to face-to-face education at their school, or have been advised to shield because they are clinically extremely vulnerable.
The guidance on getting laptops and tablets for children who cannot attend school due to coronavirus (COVID-19) at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-laptops-and-tablets-for-children-who-cannot-attend-school-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19 provides information for schools, trusts and local authorities on how to apply.