A campaign to provide laptops for primary school pupils in a deprived area of Greater Manchester is being spearheaded by kind-hearted staff at learning and management training company In Professional Development.
InPD has launched the Britannia Bridge Primary School Laptop Appeal, which aims to secure donations from individuals and businesses for around 170 devices so pupils at the Wigan school can learn online.
The company has set up a page on the GoFundMe crowd-funding platform and is promoting the appeal through its social media networks. The appeal is for cash to buy devices, as well as for the donation of laptops.
InPD is making its own substantial cash donation, and staff at the Wigan-based company have made individual pledges. Staff will also provide additional support to the school to install the necessary software to enable pupils to access remote learning platforms.
Now InPD is urging other businesses to follow its lead and set up similar campaigns to help schools in their local areas.
The idea for the campaign came from Mike Johnson, one of InPD’s executive education consultants.
He said: “The shortage of school laptops and the associated problems of online access for children seems to be an issue up and down the country.
“As providers of education and training, we understand the importance of learning, and the situation in which Britannia Bridge children have found themselves has really resonated with us all. We hope our campaign will make a real difference.
“We also hope it will inspire other businesses to help schools in their local areas. By taking action of this kind, it will have a huge and beneficial impact on children’s education.”
He added: “Even taking into consideration the government’s recent announcement that schools will soon be reopening, children still need our support.
“When lockdown ends and pupils return to their schools, they will still face challenges which mean laptops will still be required. Some will end up isolating because of COVID outbreaks, while others will need devices to do their homework or to make up for lost time.”
Britannia Bridge is in Lower Ince, Wigan, one of the top 20 per cent most deprived neighbourhoods in England.
It has 276 pupils and, during lockdown, has remained open to 70 youngsters who are the children of key workers or have special needs. The rest of the pupils are accessing remote learning from home. The government has allocated 33 laptops to the school, which means there is a shortfall of around 170 devices.
Maria Temel, computing lead and technician at the school, said many pupils are trying to access work via smartphones or very old laptops which do not have provision for Microsoft Teams, the school’s remote learning platform.
She added: “Many of our families are struggling with one device for several children, which creates further obstacles for our pupils to access their learning online.
“We would love to be able to furnish each and every child in our school who is learning remotely with a laptop preinstalled with Microsoft Teams and PowerPoint. “This will offer them the best chance to keep on top of their learning and not fall behind.
“We’re extremely grateful to everyone at InPD for their support in setting up the appeal on behalf of our pupils. Every penny and every laptop that is donated will make a huge difference to our children.”
InPD director David Hall said: “We’ve provided time and resources to set up the appeal and to promote it via our social media channels and networks. It seems to be gaining momentum and, if it can be replicated by other companies, it will benefit thousands of school children.”