Recent research from the Sutton Trust found that a third of children in deprived areas were without access to a computer or laptop.
Given the current emphasis on online learning, this means huge numbers of school pupils are missing out on vital access to education.
Among the organisations trying to plug that gap is the Royal Shakespeare Company who have hooked up with Birmingham tech company SCC (Specialist Computer Centres) to supply 250 laptops to young people around the region.
The pupils attend the 12 RSC Associate Schools in Birmingham and Warwickshire will receive individual laptops and 12 months of free data per user to support them through the challenges of the current academic year. The equipment will ensure that students can access high quality learning and arts opportunities at home as well as in school.
The RSC’s network of over 250 Associate Schools around the country focusses on areas with limited access to arts learning opportunities, and often with a high proportion of students eligible for free school meals. The donation of laptop devices and data is in partnership with SCC. The project is being funded by SCC’s charitable trust, which has long invested in causes relating to lifelong learning, health and education.
Stratford’s Welcombe Hills and Warwick’s Newburgh Primary School are among those receiving the laptop gifts.
Jacqui O’Hanlon, RSC Director of Education said: “This is one of the most challenging times to be in education, either as a teacher or student. The ability of schools and families to adapt quickly and easily to the changing context is being constantly tested. This wonderful gift from SCC’s charitable trust means that 250 children will be able to access online learning opportunities wherever they are, and ensure they are acquiring important new skills along the way. The next few months continue to be uncertain, but these young people will have the right tools to keep on progressing and developing, supported both by technology and the talents of their dedicated teachers.”
Sir Peter Rigby, Founder and Executive Chairman of Rigby Group, SCC’s parent company, said: “On behalf of the Group I can’t express how pleased we are to be able to support such a wonderful and life-changing initiative. Digital access is critical both for online learning and to develop digital skills that are becoming more and more important as technology innovation continues in the workplace.”