A former Ballakermeen teacher is appealing for donations of equipment and money to help students across the UK and the Isle of Man keep up their learning, both during and after the schools closure.
Leigh Adams has set up www.donatealaptop.co.uk which provides a link between schools and people who have spare laptops or equipment or simply want to donate money so children can carry on learning.
Speaking to Gef, Leigh, who now works for the British Film Institute as Director of Education and Skills and lives near Guildford, said: ‘I’m surprised at how many [schools] have signed up, but we’ve got a huge way to go with it. One of the purposes behind this is really to be able to present the government with the overall picture of actually how bad it is. So what we’re actually trying to do is get every school to sign up and say listen we need five devices, 10 devices, 100 devices and then actually be able to put a pretty accurate figure on how bad the problem is across the UK, including the Isle of Man.’
While many of us will have seen the number of schools in the UK saying they are unable to provide remote learning because students simply don’t have their own device or are sharing them with brothers and sisters or in some cases, don’t even have the internet, which to many of us is as normal as having running water in the taps, this is also an issue for Manx students.
And while our students are expected to return to school on Monday, we have seen in the last few weeks how easy it could be for the schools to close again or even worse for the island to have an outbreak in its schools as has happened in Guernsey this week. On the island, four high schools have registered with the website. Between them Ballakermeen, St Ninian’s, Ramsey Grammar and QE II identified a need for 76 laptops, 50 tablets and 50 4g routers to enable students to use the internet at home when the schools could lend them devices for their work.
Leigh said that while the pandemic has exposed these gaps in internet access for school children across the UK and, the issues have existed for a long time and will continue to do so after the pandemic, unless action is taken.
He explained: ‘This isn’t a Covid isolated incident, 10 years ago I was buying students laptops and broadband access, all this has done is highlight the issue. The issue isn’t going to go away because kids go back to school because of the amount of schools that use websites and apps to help children learn.
‘But also we have to ask what about the families and those people who can’t get online to pay utility bills or see bank statements or search for jobs, it’s a much wider issue, it just seems ridiculous that in today’s world it is still a problem.’
Website stats so far…
322 schools requesting support
10,395 laptops needed
4,072 tablets needed