How to tackle digital exclusion, #BridgeTheDivide and save £7m

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John Jackson, CEO of edtech charity LGfL – The National Grid for Learning, on how LGfL can help your school tackle technology inequality

John Jackson, CEO of edtech charity LGfL – The National Grid for Learning, on how LGfL can help your school tackle technology inequality

Did digital exclusion – lack of access to an electronic device or internet connection – heighten learning loss for disadvantaged pupils in your school?

Do you – like us – want to level the educational playing field and bridge the widening 18-month attainment gap for disadvantaged children who make up 27% of the UK’s population?

Do you – like us – want to save your school money?

We felt so strongly about these issues that we made one of our boldest moves to date – and, in a bid to help schools #BridgeTheDivide, mass procured one million Chromebooks and WinBooks, driving down the price, saving schools millions of pounds and increasing access to devices and technology for ‘all’ children.  The response so far has been inspiring.  Over lockdown we have, so far, delivered 120,000 devices and saved schools an estimated £7m with a lot more being delivered over the summer and autumn. You can find out more here.

We also looked carefully at other options to make technology affordable for all, save schools money and help to get every child online including a leasing programme comprising three options:

  • Leasing option one – allows schools to get the tech they need now without the upfront investment, helping to make a large roll out affordable.
  • Leasing option two – backed with warranty and accidental damage protection to ensure as little lost learning time as possible in the event of unintended damage to the device.
  • Leasing option three – parents fund devices for students in the classroom, at potentially zero cost to the school.

The publication of two shocking reports inspired us to make our next big move:

Did you know that according to the Sutton Trust and Teacher Tapp1 only 10% of schools across the country reported all their pupils had a laptop?

Did you know that Ofcom estimates that between 1.14m and 1.78m UK children – nine per cent – lack access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home – and more than 880,000 live in a household with only a mobile internet connection?

We decided urgent action was required and in response launched our much-loved recycling initiative in which we wipe, repurpose and distribute old kit to enable disadvantaged pupils to work remotely from home in the event of further COVID outbreaks. During the pandemic we supported schools to recycle more than 30,000 devices at a time of worldwide device shortages.

And to end – on a slightly different note – I’d like to raise my hat to the inspiring footballer Marcus Rashford who, as Manchester councillor, John Leech, said, “Has done more to fight child poverty than any politician.” Marcus kindly features our Free School Meals Eligibility Checker on his #EndChildFoodPoverty site, making it easier for parents to find out whether their child qualifies for free school meals and in doing so helping schools to generate potential pupil premium funding claims for disadvantaged children totalling £30m.

Come to EdExec LIVE South (London 30 September) or North (Manchester 12 November) to let LGfL know how we can help you. Together we can #BridgeTheDivide. Click here to book your ticket for EdExec LIVE North now or email us at [email protected] for a discounted ticket.

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