Concern about limited access to IT equipment for local pupils has prompted South Hams District Council to donate 30 laptops and share £4,000 between four local secondary schools. Ivybridge Community College, Dartmouth Academy, King Edward VI Community College in Totnes and Kingsbridge Community College have each received the boost to help children currently struggling to access online learning at home.
The £4,000 donation to the schools to buy equipment to help students to study online has been funded through the Council's SeaMoor Lotto fund. This lottery is run to support a whole range of local good causes, with 60% of each £1 lottery ticket that is purchased being ploughed back into the community to do good. Where no specific local community group has been selected by a lotto player, this money goes into a central fund. The Council agreed that using this fund to give schools money to help those children in the community who are struggling would make a huge difference.
The Council also identified a set of laptops that are no longer in use and will share these with the schools to distribute. These are currently being refurbished by the Council's IT Team and will be sent out as quickly as possible to those children who need them most.
Cllr Nicky Hopwood, South Hams District Council's Lead Member for IT said: "Talking to our local schools, the acute need for more IT equipment was apparent. We initially contacted the schools to offer laptops that are no longer in use due to a recent upgrade. But on hearing that there is a great need right now, with many children on waiting lists for equipment, we felt that we needed to do something more. We decided the best thing we could do was to also offer funding that would enable school staff to go out and purchase equipment right away.
"With this money, schools can support more children who are really struggling to learn at home. We know many pupils are still using shared equipment or trying to take part in lessons on a phone. As well as missed learning opportunities, we know this causes real worry and anxiety amongst our young people. We're delighted to be able to do something to help right now, when our schools and pupils really need it. I want to say a big thank you to those local people who support the SeaMoor Lotto. It's because of you that we can now help local families in this way."
Stephen Corline, School Business Director at King Edward VI Community College said: "On behalf of the students and teachers of King Edward VI Community College, we would like to thank South Hams District Council for their generous support in helping students access the online learning during the lockdown. This donation of computers, together with £1,000 of community lottery funds kindly made available to us by the Council's SeaMoor Lotto, will assist us greatly in ensuring more students are able to gain access and benefit from home learning while the lockdown is in effect.
"Throughout the last year we have provided Chromebooks to students working from home when this has been needed and this extra support will help us continue to do this. With school closures lasting for months, online learning activities including live lessons and virtual projects are necessary."
Alan Salt, Principal of King Edward VI Community College added: "These devices will enable more of our students to engage in digital face-to-face learning activities. They will also help students to be involved in some of the wellbeing sessions we are providing at this time, which is so important."
Caroline Johnson, a teacher at Ivybridge Community College who has been helping to co-ordinate the distribution of laptops to the pupils who need them, said: "We have been overwhelmed by the kindness of South Hams Council for their incredibly kind donation of both tablets and the funding to purchase more laptops for our students.
"Many of our students are still accessing live lessons from their mobile phones and the loan of a laptop or tablet will make a huge difference to both their learning and their engagement. However, it's not just the students who will be grateful: we know of several parents who are loaning their child their laptop during the day to allow them to access live lessons which then results in them having to work later in the day to catch up with their own work.
"Being able to allocate additional laptops to these families will facilitate a more sustainable work life balance during this difficult time."
Anyone wanting to support local good causes, and be in with a chance of winning weekly prizes up to £25,000, can buy SeaMoor Lotto tickets safely and conveniently at: www.seamoorlotto.co.uk