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Gloucestershire Business News

Join laptop appeal to keep children learning

Punchline is backing calls for businesses to donate any unwanted laptops to help ensure no child is unable to benefit from home schooling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pupils at five Gloucester schools have benefited from laptops and tablets donated by ProCook while Cheltenham Borough Council has launched a Laptops for Learning campaign.

Punchline-Gloucester.com editor Mark Owen said: "Making sure children have access to learning is one of the top priorities in dealing wit the pandemic.

"So many of us are very keen on recycling and what better way to do that than give any unused machines a new lease of life in helping our children learn?

"Have a look around this weekend to see if you have anything stored away at home or in a corner of the office after an upgrade. It will not go to waste."

Kitchenware retailer ProCook responded to an appeal from Robinswood Academy Trust to donate 12 laptops and 21 tablets.

And founder Daniel O'Neill believes businesses can make a great impact with even a small donation.

He said: "There are many local children who still can't access basic computer equipment and the internet at home, and when the Robinswood Trust approached us for donations we were more than happy to help.

"I encourage any local business that has recently upgraded their equipment to see if there is anything they can spare.

"Anything we can do to support education locally is the right thing to do and can only benefit families and communities across the county."

The Academy Trust consists of Robinswood Primary Academy, Moat Primary Academy in Matson, Waterwells Primary Academy in Kingsway, Hunts Grove Primary Academy in Hardwicke and Grange Primary Academy in Tuffley.

Grange assistant head of school Charlotte Holloway said: "Some schools in Gloucestershire are some of the most deprived in the country with three schools within our trust in the top two per cent nationally for deprivation.

"The Government has provided 10 extra laptops but it simply isn't enough as we have 102 families, which include multiple children, unable to access school lessons and therefore falling further and further behind."

She continued: "We've delivered 17 computers to date and are providing 4G sim cards for families without internet access but there are still many children going without.

"We would gladly welcome any donation of equipment, no matter how large or small.

"The end of this lockdown is in sight but the longer it goes on the more children without access to learning tools fall behind."

Any able to supply chargeable laptops with working sound and microphone and desktops - preferably able to run Windows 10 - can email cholloway@robinswoodtrust.co.uk.

Senior members at Tewkesbury Golf Club and the Royal British Legion donated £1,700 to buy six iPads for Cleeve School.

Executive headteacher Alwyn Richards said: 'Without this, many students would be unable to access our on-line distance learning so this has provided a crucial lifeline to ensure students' learning continues, despite the significant challenges of the pandemic."

Cheltenham Borough Council's campaign, launched with support from IT Schools Africa, Cheltenham Learning Partnership and Cheltenham Education Partnership, aims to help fill an estimated shortfall of 500 laptops across the town's schools.

Councillor Flo Clucas, member for healthy lifestyles, said: "As a former teacher, my biggest concern throughout the crisis has been the impact Covid is having on our children.

"We have liaised with headteachers of secondary and primary schools and we all agree no child should be left behind at school because they can't get online at home.

"As a borough our ambition is to be the cyber capital of the UK, our ask is to help us end digital poverty in our town and support the tremendous efforts our schools are making."

If you cannot provide hardware - which can be donated at a drop-off location found at nclbcheltenham.org.uk/laptops-for-learning before being refurbished - you can donate to a campaign aiming to raise £50,000 to purchase more laptops.

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