50 laptops have been donated to pupils to support the borough’s Connecting Communities project, a cross-sector partnership aimed at tackling the digital divide in the borough.
Pupils at St Luke’s C of E Primary School were the first to receive their laptops during Get Online Week (16-22 October) - an annual, national campaign to help people to get online safely, confidently and affordably.
During the week the council is working with local organisations to run several events and activities to encourage more residents to get online and make the most of what that has to offer.
The laptops were presented by Cllr Maium Talukdar, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Lifelong Learning, and Cllr Suluk Ahmed, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Social Inclusion.
The Connecting Communities partnership was formed in Spring 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on a digital divide and the effects of digital exclusion on low-income communities and vulnerable residents in Tower Hamlets.
The project identifies digitally disadvantaged families to provide children with a laptop and the family with a good digital connection alongside support and training.
Families who receive a device are connected to high-speed broadband, which is free for at least 12 months.
They also receive a seven-step training programme to ensure they know how to use their device, to ensure online safety, to enable access to educational resources and their GP and to ensure they know how to manage their finances online.
Partners contributed seed funding and time to get the project up and running, and includes Tower Hamlets Council, East End Community Foundation, social housing provider Poplar HARCA and education provider, the Letta Trust.
To date, 479 digital devices have been distributed to families in 21 schools through the scheme.
The further 50 laptops from Tower Hamlets Council will be distributed between now and March 2024.
Two primary schools in Tower Hamlets, St Luke’s C of E and Harbinger, have also been awarded ‘Microsoft Showcase School’ status for the second year running.
Microsoft Showcase Schools are an elite group of schools that demonstrate using technology to enhance the educational experience of all the young people. Only a few institutions worldwide earn this status.
Cllr Maium Talukdar, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Lifelong Learning, said:
“I am proud that Tower Hamlets Council has funded the donation of 50 laptops for pupils in Tower Hamlets and it has been a privilege to deliver these laptops to the families directly.
“Our aspiration is for every child in the borough to get both the kit and connectivity they need to access online learning.”
Cllr Suluk Ahmed, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Social Inclusion, said:
“It was great visit the school during Get Online Week, and I know that these generous donations will make a huge difference to our young people and their opportunities for online learning.”
Alexandra Allan, Executive Headteacher at St Luke’s C of E Primary School, said:
"We’re really delighted East End Community Foundation reached out to us about Connecting Communities and we're so grateful to Tower Hamlets Council for their generous donation of laptops.
“We're also over the moon to have been awarded Showcase status for the second year in a row.
“The appropriate and skilled use of technology is fundamental in ensuring our pupils are ready for their futures.”
Tracey Walsh, CEO at East End Community Foundation and Chair of Connecting Communities Partnership, said:
“Our Connecting Communities programme is going from strength to strength, supporting nearly 480 families across the borough.
“Get Online Week is a fantastic opportunity to showcase participating schools like St Luke's Primary and highlight how the programme improves children’s educational outcomes and empowers families.
“As a member of Get Online London we understand the vital importance of digital inclusion.”
Posted on Thursday 19th October 2023