Council launches crowdfunder to buy laptops for schoolchildren
3,000 children do not have access to a computer
Tuesday, 29th September 2020 — By Richard Osley
Schools chief Angela Mason
THE Town Hall is trying a ‘crowdfunder’ campaign for the first time in a bid to pay for laptops for schoolchildren who are struggling to learn during the coronavirus crisis and are at risk of falling behind during periods of self-isolation or potential further lockdowns.
In a sign of how squeezed local authority finances under the pressure of Covid-19 emergency and a wait for more cash support from central government, Camden is openly asking residents to help bridge the ‘digital divide’.
Although levels of poverty were known before the crisis, it came as a shock that as many as 3,000 pupils did not have access to a computer or an internet access. Others are sharing devices with siblings or using barely usable old phones.
Many resources were placed online during the first virus lockdown, as schools were ordered to close.
The appeal is being run by Camden Learning, the partnership between Camden’s schools and the council. Camden has previously asked businesses to donate machines that were no longer being used but now the council is asking for cash.
It said every £227 raised is enough to buy a computer for a pupil.
Council education chief Labour councillor Angela Mason said: “Camden schools have been lending their pupils computers, as well as doing their own fundraising to buy digital kit, while Camden Learning and Camden Council have successfully appealed for some donated devices, bought some emergency kit for a limited number of children who might be sent home, as well as distributing computers bought by the government for selected year groups.
Camden Council’s campaign video
“However, none of this has been anywhere near enough to end the inequality of access to online learning in our borough, which has become so painfully apparent during this Covid-19 crisis. This means that thousands of Camden pupils, including some of our most disadvantaged children, still have no access or only limited access to a computer and WiFi at home.”
“We think this is unacceptable so it is our ambition that no pupil or student in Camden schools should be without the equipment (computer and Wi-Fi connection) they need to access home learning online, which has become so important during the pandemic.”