School-Home Support (SHS) has today joined Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh and others in the education sector to call on the government to bridge the digital divide for remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Letter to the Prime Minister
A letter was sent to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking him to take action to help children living in digital poverty by provisioning hundreds of thousands of pupils with devices or broadband connection. Ofcom estimates that 9% of children in the UK don’t have access to a computer device at home. They also estimate that more than 880,000 children live in a household with only a mobile internet connection.
Our work on digital poverty
Since the first lockdown began in March 2020, SHS has been working hard to ensure that children growing up in poverty can continue to learn from home – whatever obstacles they face.
Chief Executive Jaine Stannard said: “One of the biggest challenges that we saw in 2020 was that families did not have computer devices or access to the internet. This meant that children who were already at risk of being behind due to being vulnerable were being excluded from education. We stepped up for these children.”
We partnered with the Raspberry Pi Foundation (supported by the Bloomfield Trust) to get computer devices to children and families in need. We have also provided data and connectivity support for families. To date we have delivered 197 pieces of equipment to families up and down the country. We’ve also connected 135 families to the internet.
How we helped Star
11 year old Star lives with her mum. When the first lockdown was announced in March 2020, Star had difficulties accessing her homework platform. In the home they had two smart phones and an old and slow laptop. Star was finding it difficult to complete homework she was set as the homework platform the school used was not easily accessible via smartphone and the laptop they had was really slow and this was frustrating for her.
Star’s mum had been furloughed from her job and was now having to prioritise their money on food, bills, clothing and household essentials. Therefore there was no additional money to buy Star a new laptop, especially as there was still some access to education.
Star was provided with a Raspberry Pi Desktop Kit. Since then Star has been able to access her online learning and the homework platform with ease. Mum told us that Star has been spending much more time on her learning now that it’s easier to access and she is doing it more independently than before.
Star told her Practitioner that she is learning more and that with the bigger screen everything is much clearer and easier to understand. Our Practitioner is encouraged by the positive attitude to learning Star is showing.