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Council bolsters IT support for school children

Council computers that are not being used are to be offered to schools to help pupils learn at home, as part of three phase plan to support local children and young people.

Wirral Council’s aim is to ensure that no child misses out on education because of a lack of technology or internet access.

This will be done in three phases:

  • supporting schools to secure their full entitlement from government IT schemes,
  • offering currently unused laptops to schools
  • coordinating financial contributions or donations of IT kit from businesses and the public

Since last year teams from the council’s IT and Children’s Services have been working closely with schools to determine what extra assistance is needed to ensure all pupils across the borough have opportunities to continue to learn while at home.

The council is supporting schools to secure their full entitlement from the government’s ‘Get help with technology’ scheme. Last year during the previous lockdown, the authority successfully delivered over 1000 laptops to vulnerable children through schools, social care, housing and early help teams as well as directly to schools.

A young college student who received a laptop last year wrote to the council and said: “Thank you very much for my lovely laptop. Now that I have a laptop of my own, I can do my homework and look on the internet. I am so pleased.”

In the second part of the assistance plan, council teams are working with schools to find out whether the 150 laptops which are no longer in use at the authority could be repurposed and utilised by pupils. Pupils who need digital support will be identified and working with schools, and the IT companies they use, the necessary technical and logistical help will be provided.

In parallel to all this, the council is developing a co-ordinated approach to receive donations of digital devices with a number of businesses and individuals having already come forward to offer IT kit, or financial contributions to buy new devices.

Details of how donations can be made will be shared next week including drop off points, the specification of kit needed to ensure it will work with school learning systems and the process for financial contributions to be made.

Leader of Wirral Council, Cllr Janette Williamson said: “Whilst a large number of our school children are having to stay at home, it’s important we do all we can to help get them the tools they need to continue learning.

“A lack of the technology that is needed for learning away from school is really detrimental to those children who are already disadvantaged due to poverty and inequality and I don’t want to see any Wirral child get left behind. However, many families are also finding that they are struggling as remote learning continues – perhaps with limited WiFi access or having one device to cover several children’s schooling.”

“We will be using every option open to us to plug those gaps and give local families the best chance at getting their children through this.”