A secondary school head has described a delivery of laptops for students as “almost life changing” after her school received no government support for children without access to online learning.
Emily McMillan, acting head of Heartwood Primary School in Swaffham, said the devices, provided as part of the Every Child Online campaign, launched by this newspaper, Norfolk County Council and Norfolk Community Foundation, had given 25 children access to online classes.
Despite having 52 students eligible to receive a laptop from the department of education, the school received zero devices from the government, leaving those children with no way to learn online.
Ms McMillan said: “It was amazing to receive those laptops, because although we’ve got 52 children eligible, the department for education allocated us zero laptops because we’ve only just started a year three.
“We don’t have any technology at all at the school, which is obviously a huge barrier. A lot of our children are from big families, so some of their siblings might have devices, but we had 28 who declared that they hadn’t got any access from year one to three.
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“There are some eligible children in reception, but they don’t need it for their learning.”
She said that access to laptops had plugged gaps in her students learning caused by previous lockdowns and added that thanks to the devices teachers no longer had to hold face to face meetings with students who didn’t have access.
Ms McMillan added: “I think for a couple of reasons it’s almost been life changing, a lot of the children who don’t have access to online learning were having one to one interventions, but now we’re able to continue that remotely to give them support with the gaps which they’ve had from COVID lockdowns before.
“It’s also helped us support in terms of safeguarding, and having that contact with children and families you can see on teams that the isolation and social side has been improved.
“We just want to thank everyone who has been involved, we’re very grateful for the impact it has had on our children and I know the parents are too.”
With the help of four laptops donated from the community alongside those provided by this newspaper’s campaign, Ms McMillan says all children at Heartwood now have access to online learning.
The school also received free 90-day sim cards from Vodafone for those who did not have an internet connection.
Those wishing to donate equipment to the Every Child Online campaign should email [email protected].
To donate funds click here.