The Coronavirus crisis is causing unprecedented challenges for our schools and highlighting the invisible barrier to learning and attainment caused by tech poverty. The Digital Education Partnership was initially set up to support schools throughout the initial lockdown, as an essential step in the battle against coronavirus. Despite children returning to school, the need for technology and the disadvantages for those without digital access at home, has been harshly highlighted and cannot be ignored moving forward.
Our sample data indicates that there are well over 5000 children/families that need digital connection in Birmingham, which can mean needing internet connection or a device or both. The Digital Education Partnership is working hard to help schools to unlock existing resources so that existing stock and repurposed devices from within our schools can be safely used in the first instance to alleviate the worst of the problems.
Where schools have used up all their available resources, they can then apply to the Digital Education Partnership. Schools can apply for one of our academic long connectivity bundles to support their pupils, along with a device from our repurposing scheme.
All our devices are donated from individuals and businesses. We have chosen this process as we began our work when the supply chain was heavily interrupted by the pandemic, along with a surge in demand for devices. We have chosen to continue this model as it is an environmentally conscious option- and little hands are also not the most delicate with a new device! Each device is sent to our partner organisation, Link2ICT, and turned into a Chromebook with the use of Nevaware software.
We will be working independently of the recent measures announced by the Government because welcome as they are, they don’t go far enough, quickly enough. Every day counts in the education and well-being of a child. We welcome what the Government is doing to assist those in need and believe our work will supplement that by unlocking existing resources to provide a faster, more direct solution in some of the most deprived areas of the city. We are focusing on the needs of vulnerable children across all age groups, both Primary and Secondary. Like you, we know that digital exclusion can further entrench existing disadvantage and that vulnerable groups can benefit disproportionately from being online.
Focus of the Group
To work in partnership to;
- Support all schools across Birmingham, to ensure that all children, including the most vulnerable, have access to online education and well-being
- To support all schools to initially use their own resources to support home e-learning
- To build partnerships that will support the digital inclusion agenda by providing financial and in-kind support when needed
- To work strategically to promote digital inclusion