Laptop library opens to help disadvantaged pupils struggling to get online

It claims to be the first such initiative in UK

Zoe Tidman
Wednesday 02 June 2021 17:38
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<p>The scheme aims to help hundreds of children this year</p>

The scheme aims to help hundreds of children this year

A “laptop library” has opened in London to help disadvantaged children, who may not have devices at home, to get online.

Under the scheme, children will be able to borrow a laptop for free and take it home with them for a set period of time.

The service in Lewisham, southeast London, claims to be the first “laptop library” in the UK.

Its launch on Thursday comes after the coronavirus pandemic shone a light on the number of children struggling with access to technology and the internet at home.

One study suggested a third of disadvantaged pupils did not have access to a device needed for online work last year.

While poorer pupils were still likely to live in a household with a device, the availability of one was “far more limited” than in wealthier families, according to research by ImpactEd, a non-profit organisation, published earlier this year.

The government has sent out more than 1.3 million laptops and devices to school to support disadvantaged children having to learn online at home, whether during national lockdowns or periods of self-isolation.

More than half a million of these were sent out from the start of this year.

But headteachers have previously told The Independent they had to rely on donations or buy laptops using their own budgets to get devices to pupils as soon as possible after schools moved largely online earlier this year.

The new laptop library in Lewisham is based at the headquarters of the CC Foundation, a charity involved in setting up the scheme in conjuction with IT service provider Totality Services.

Children will be able to borrow laptops from the Tech Suite and also take home a wifi dongle, to ensure they will be able to get online.

Training sessions will also be held at the charity’s Tech Suite, which was funded by Totality Services.

The laptop library is estimated to be able to help more than 1,000 children this year.

While initially running in the area of southeast London, the scheme plans on expanding to help children nationwide.

Fekky, a rapper who founded the CC Foundation, said the initiative will “provide people with the opportunities to see and set high standards for themselves”.

According to estimates from Ofcom last year, between 1.14 million and 1.78 million children in the UK did not have home access to a laptop, desktop or tablet computer.

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