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Delivery of laptops in Tower Hamlets marks an online learning milestone

BGF-ECO-2Image: Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs with seven-year-old Mariam

  • Delivery of laptops to Blue Gate Fields Infants’ School marks 110,000 digital devices distributed to students nationwide since COVID-19 started
  • The London Borough of Tower Hamlets, in partnership with LGfL, are both seeking to accelerate access to online learning and tackle digital disadvantage

A delivery of laptops gifted to students in Tower Hamlets marked the landmark moment of 110,000 #BridgeTheDivide devices distributed by LGfL - the National Grid for Learning, making them the second largest distributor of devices to schools in the UK behind the Department for Education.

Closer to home, the moment marked the transformation of potential for students from Blue Gate Fields Infants’ School whose lives have been changed forever by better access to their online learning.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said: “We’re working to get every child online in the borough as I know what a difference having access to a laptop or tablet has for our young people. We’ve been busy distributing devices and lobbying the government, and we are also fundraising and working with partners to get the ‘kit and connectivity’ pupils need to learn. It’s vital that we get every child online and end the digital disadvantage in education.”

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Image: Mayor John Biggs (left) with children from Blue Gate Fields Infants' School

Access to online learning was an essential requirement during lockdown for many who could not continue to learn in a classroom. Following the return of face-to-face learning for every child and young person in March, it remains vital that learners can get online, to ensure opportunity and access are spread equally and every child is able to realise their potential.

A total of 12 devices were paid for and made possible by a combination of £1,300 in personal donations to Every Child Online, which paid for seven devices, plus an additional five devices donated in support of The Mayor’s Fund by LGfL.

LGfL have been critical to the acceleration of access to technology for students across the UK during COVID-19, having performed a massive #BridgeTheDivide procurement of devices at a significant discount, with savings then passed on to local authorities, including Tower Hamlets, who buy devices at a reduced rate to support local efforts at overcoming the digital divide.

Richard Martin, Digital Transformation Network Lead, LGfL, said: “We are delighted to support Tower Hamlets and Blue Gate Field Infants’ School and celebrate the 110,000th device provided to schools and local authorities as part of the LGfL ‘#BridgeTheDivide’ nationwide campaign, which has to date saved schools over £7 million.

“LGfL is a not-for-profit organisation that is committed to supporting schools with the provision of high-quality, low-cost education technology services. We always seek to help wherever we can to give schools what they need to support great teaching and learning that improves the life chances of their students.”

Catherine Jones, Headteacher, Blue Gate Fields Infants’ School, said: “We’re thrilled to have received these laptops from Every Child Online and Bridge the Divide, which will have a genuine and life-changing impact on our students, opening up new avenues of learning and a whole range of education opportunities that they would otherwise not have had access to.”

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Image (L to R:): Mariam, Sihaam and Isa with their new laptops.

Isa (above right) aged seven, from Blue Gates Field Infants’ School, said: “I can learn a lot on my laptop. I can type, read and learn and I don’t need to share with my little sister anymore.”

Long-term, it is expected that every student will require a device and an internet connection at home to access their learning, as online education increasingly complements classroom teaching.

This new approach, known as ‘blended learning’, which combines traditional teaching and online education, is increasingly becoming the norm in our nation’s classrooms.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For more information contact the Tower Hamlets communications team on communications@towerhamlets.gov.uk.

For enquiries relating to LGfL - The National Grid for Learning, contact Richenda Wood on 07941 125 580 or Richenda.Wood@livewirepr.com.

About Every Child Online

Every Child Online, launched in February 2021 is currently 17 per cent of the way to its £1 million total, having raised £179,218 to date. It is a partnership of Tower Hamlets Council, the Tower Hamlets’ Education Partnership and Community Fibre, who are working together to tackle digital disadvantage.

Educators fear that unless the problem is addressed quickly, the gulf between those who have access to learning from home and those who do not will widen and lead to huge differences in attainment and opportunity with life-long consequences for those who find themselves on the wrong side of this digital divide.

More detail can be found here: www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/everychildonline.

Fundraising page: www.justgiving.com/campaign/everychildonline.

The Department for Education (DfE) has given 10,383 laptops to LB Tower Hamlets as at 11 May 2021 (source); on par with Manchester (10,923) Leeds (11,708) and Liverpool (12,553) vs neighbouring Newham (5,514) and, Hackney (6,586)

A survey of schools locally in Jan/Feb 2021 identified that, in addition to what the DfE are giving, approx. 10,000 students were still unable to access their online learning (one-in-four school children in Tower Hamlets)

Every Child Online was launched to draw attention to this additional level of need, and demonstrate that the need is still relevant – even after the return of face-to-face learning in March 2021 – as access to online learning allows for continued learning at home and during the holidays.

About LGfL – The National Grid for Learning

Winner of the not-for-profit Supplier of the Year to Education in the BETT Awards, LGfL – The National Grid for Learning is a charitable trust that is passionate about saving schools money, keeping children safe, tackling inequality, energising teaching and learning and promoting wellbeing.

Its mission is the advancement of education. It does not profit from schools and reinvests any profits it makes back into education.

The #BridgeTheDivide campaign is a huge national procurement for up to one million devices - Chromebooks and WinBooks - purchased at a massive scale.

By procuring in this way, LGfL has been able to negotiate a significant discount to accelerate access to technology whilst saving schools across the UK millions of pounds.

This, in turn, has increased access to devices and technology for children everywhere, including the disadvantaged.

Many providers, including Every Child Online/Tower Hamlets Council, are buying their technology from LGfL to take advantage of this discount.

Find out more: https://national.lgfl.net/smartbuy/devices

Posted on Tuesday 25th May 2021