Mayor of Hackney urges government to extend laptop scheme to more pupils

A person using a laptop. Picture: PA/Dominic Lipinski

A person using a laptop. Picture: PA/Dominic Lipinski - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

More than a thousand laptops have been distributed to school children in Hackney to help them learn from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hackney Learning Trust has delivered over 1,500 laptops and over 100 4G routers to students as part of the government’s Covid-19 Technology Support Scheme.

But the council says there are still many more students eligible for laptops who have not yet received the devices needed for home learning.

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Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville said: “We are focused on making sure our young people in Hackney do not lose out on their education as a result of the pandemic.

“We know that there has been a government scheme to get laptops out to some Year 10 pupils and some vulnerable children, but that’s a small proportion of the young people who don’t have access to technology and ministers need to do better.

“I urge the government to not only send enough equipment for all pupils who are eligible, but to review the eligibility criteria and broaden this so that more young people can benefit from attaining the essential equipment needed to succeed.” The council says it has received less than half of the devices needed to support pupils.

The scheme was put in place to support disadvantaged Year 10 pupils, care leavers and children with a social worker.

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Deputy Mayor and Cabinet member for education, young people and children’s social care, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble said: “In order for children to learn successfully over this long period where children have been out of school, they need to have access to technology to be able to keep up with their learning. This is just one aspect of learning and Ministers need to do more to demonstrate they understand all the challenges young people are facing during the pandemic.”

Equipment was delivered to the council last week and it will distribute the devices to young people over the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, the council is also looking at local options to supplement the initial batch of laptops if the government fails to meet the remaining need.

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

To learn more about receiving technology support for children and schools during the Covid-19 crisis click here.