Fifteen lucky children in Year 5 at The Ferns Primary Academy on Plodder Lane, Farnworth, sponsored by Northern Education Trust, have been given laptop computers for their own personal use at home, thanks to the generosity of four Rotary Clubs in Bolton and Salford, as well as the many individuals and organisations who have responded to their appeal.
Soon after the first lockdown began last year, local Rotarians recognised the challenge for families who had children trying to learn from home, especially where they had limited or even no access to a computer. The solution was to encourage the donation of laptops which were no longer required by their owners and to have them refurbished and made suitable for use by the youngsters. So far, more than 140 computers have been donated to the scheme and already more than 60 have been refurbished and distributed within schools. The IT partner with Rotary looking after the refurbishments is We Love Laptops a specialist company located in Horwich.
The first priority was to help children affected by the pandemic. However, the need for home technology is in fact a long-standing issue for many school children who need to develop their digital skills and be encouraged to exploit computers to aid their learning. Without suitable technology at home children can be rapidly left behind.
During the pandemic, Northern Education Trust provided laptops and internet access to any student who was unable to access this at home, increasing the number of devices across the trust by over 4,000 to ensure all students have access to online learning systems. The Rotary project goes one step further to complement the Trusts commitment by donating laptops to the children directly, to give them support whether or not the pandemic is impacting on their learning. The Principal of The Ferns Primary Academy, Danielle Broadbent, welcomed the Rotarys donation of laptops for personal home use for children in need, in schools like hers, which is in the top 20% when measured by the deprivation experienced by their pupils, and over half The Ferns children are eligible for the pupil premium grant designed to help schools assist disadvantaged children.
Mrs Broadbent said, We pride ourselves on our disadvantaged children doing as well as the non-disadvantaged ones, partly through schemes like this. We have children from over 23 different nationalities within the academy and also take children who are refugees. Technology is growing, and many of the jobs of the future will involve technology which is not even designed yet. Its about us equipping the children with the skills to be the future generation to deal with that technology. But computers also help them develop other core skills like reading, writing, mathematics, geography, and history.
Recycling computers also brings significant environmental benefit. Every laptop contains some unfriendly ingredients, including rare-earth metals, lead, cadmium, cobalt and mercury. Reusing computers rather than trashing them diminishes the need for damaging mining operations, and production in countries which may have poor labour laws and practices. It also avoids the pollution of any land where the devices are discarded.
© Rotary News