Demand for Leeds Tech Angels scheme is outstripping donations as figures reveal how many government laptops were handed to disadvantaged pupils in Leeds
More than 3,000 laptops and devices were handed out to Leeds council run schools over the summer to enable pupils to learn at home during the coronavirus lockdown.
The figures have been revealed by Baroness Berridge in the House of Lords after questions were asked over how much digital and tech equipment had been made available to disadvantaged youngsters across the UK and also in Leeds as part of that allocation.
The number of devices (laptops or tablets) that were handed out to disadvantaged year 10 pupils was 382 as of August 26, 2020 and 4G routers to disadvantaged year 10 pupils was 150. For children with a social worker and care leavers, the number of devices handed out was 2181 and 4G routers to children with a social worker was 303.
Baroness Berridge said over summer 220,000 laptops and tablets were provided to allow schools and social care services to support disadvantaged pupils in year 10, children with a social worker, and care leavers.
She added: "This term, the department has bolstered this support by providing laptops and tablets to schools where face to face education has been disrupted in order to enable them to support pupils in years 3 to 11. We will have made over 500,000 devices available by the end of the year and invested nearly £200m to support remote education. The devices and connectivity support are provided to local authorities, trusts and schools. They are best placed to know which pupils need access and are responsible for onward distribution."
In-depth figures for equipment allocated to non-maintained schools, such as academies, is not available but for The Gorse Academies Trust, which has 11 schools across Leeds, it received 160 devices and 70 4G routers.
It comes as the Yorkshire Evening Post backed a campaign, launched earlier this month, to find 'Leeds Tech Angels'.
Ben McKenna leads the movement and was motivated to bridge the gap after learning that during the first lockdown, half of the children in his daughter’s class didn’t have access to a computer or laptop so they could do school work at home.
Since asking businesses and companies in the city if they have any old and unused laptops, tablets and smartphones that the scheme could safely wipe of data and re-purpose before distributing to children that don't have access to digital equipment so that they can learn from home, Mr McKenna says that "requests for support are outstripping offers of donations".
He said he always knew the need was there and is hopeful that after the Christmas period people may have even more spare kit if they have received new over the festive period.
Mr McKenna added: "Since we launched the Tech Angels campaign in early December we’ve been hugely encouraged by the support shown from across the whole Leeds community. It’s fantastic to see how the city is coming together to support its digitally excluded young people, and we’re hopeful that we can give children and young people a chance to bounce back from their setbacks this year, and make 2021 the year we really invest in their future.”
More information about Leeds Tech Angels, including details of secure drop-off points, can be found at tech-angels.net