Published: 19 January 2021
Hundreds of devices funded by Westminster City Council are being delivered to schools across the city for disadvantaged children.
Since the first Covid-19 national lockdown last year, a digital divide between children became clear when children needed to access their class work from home. Nine per cent of families in the UK do not have access to a laptop or device at home.
During the first lockdown, we were able to distribute over 760 devices to children and families and ensured they had internet connectivity. To further tackle digital exclusion in Westminster, we’ve set up the Digital Futures scheme with the Young Westminster Foundation through an ambitious partnership between local charities, businesses and schools aiming to provide devices and connectivity to communities, which will see more than 900 more devices distributed to young people.
The majority of the the devices have already been delivered across 18 schools, with the remaining ones due to be delivered this month. The council has directly funded the purchase of 750 units. Further devices have been made available by reconditioning laptops kindly donated by Vodafone, Westminster Housing and others. Over 1,000 more laptops have also been distributed to Westminster schools direct from the Department for Education, auditing up to over 2,600 devices from all sources - a major investment in digital learning across Westminster schools.
Schools in Westminster have been able to apply to the scheme on behalf of their young people. Later phases of the project will aim to distribute more devices to young people as well as to older residents and connect them to the internet.
As part of the project, Young Westminster Foundation and Westminster City Council will provide broadband connectivity for one year to accompany the devices where needed. This builds upon Westminster City Council’s campaign to bring superfast fibre broadband to Westminster residents.
Cllr Timothy Barnes, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Young People and Learning, said:
“The Covid-19 pandemic continues to shine a light on the digital divide with many disadvantaged children missing out on being able to use the internet and having a device for their school work. We distributed hundreds of laptops during the first lockdown and we hope to close the gap even further with this scheme, to ensure no child or young person is excluded from having access to a device at home.”
If your child doesn’t have access to a digital device or internet connection then they can continue to attend school in Westminster during the national lockdown. Find out more about who is eligible to attend school during the lockdown here: www.westminster.gov.uk/coronavirus-advice-residents#school
If someone at home needs to access online learning materials you can still use computers at Westminster libraries. We’ve put in place a range of safety measures so you can continue to access our computers with no need to book. Find out more here: www.westminster.gov.uk/libraries