Bedford charity, the Harpur Trust, has announced it will be providing laptops to vulnerable pupils in the Borough, to support them while schools are closed.
Although some primary school pupils have returned to their classes this week, many more continue to study at home, including an alarming number living in ‘digital poverty’ with little or no access to devices.
A total of 110 laptops have been bought in a collaboration between the Harpur Trust’s Covid-19 community funding and The Bedford Educational Association, to be shared with vulnerable pupils in Bedford via their secondary school.
Lack of access to a computer during the coronavirus pandemic has created a barrier to learning for some of the most disadvantaged in the borough.
Laptops are being offered to all 14 of the borough’s secondary schools, including Mark Rutherford School.
Kelli Foster, acting headteacher at the school welcomed the initiative, saying, “We are delighted that the Trust is making laptops available to vulnerable pupils and this will make a real difference to some of our families who are in desperate need of technology to support their home learning.”
David Steadman, Chief Executive of The Harpur Trust said, “We know there are many pupils in our area with little or no access to technology that will make a difference to their learning.
“Nationally, research is showing that Covid-19 is increasing educational divides and we want to help to address that. Technology is an area where we can make a difference rapidly, and so we have been working with schools to get support to children who need it right now.”
Throughout the crisis, the Trust has been working collaboratively with other funders, charities and groups to ensure that every penny it spends from its £1.5m Covid-19 community funding goes to the people and organisations who need it the most.
“We have been working closely with the education team at Bedford Borough Council and liaising directly with local senior schools,” said David.
“IT staff at a Harpur Trust school, Bedford School, have worked hard to procure and prepare the laptops so this is a brilliant example of how local organisations can work together to support their community.”
Irene Saenger, Chairperson of The Bedford Educational Association said, “As a local charity committed to the support of individual pupils and educational institutions within Bedfordshire, we are delighted to contribute to this important initiative.
“We recognise the hard work and creative thinking that lies behind it and hope that it will make a huge difference to the learning potential of some of the most disadvantaged young people in our area during these difficult times.”