Call for donations to Mail Force drive for much-needed computers

Lockdown is ending… but we STILL need laptops: Call for renewed donations to Mail Force drive as school with pupils of 42 nationalities receives much-needed computers

  • Headteacher Wendy Cotterill said many families struggled with remote learning 
  • Mrs Cotterill and pupils were delighted to receive delivery of boxes of laptops 
  • Thanks to Mail Force which she said will be crucial in helping pupils catch up

Teaching pupils of 42 nationalities – more than half of whom count English as a second language – may be considered challenging enough.

Throw in a pandemic, multiple lockdowns and a shortage of home-schooling resources and it soon becomes apparent how difficult it has been for the staff and pupils at Erdington Hall primary over the last year.

Headteacher Wendy Cotterill said many families struggled to deal with remote learning – with one mobile phone often having to be shared between four or five people in a household.

Headteacher Wendy Cotterill said many families struggled to deal with remote learning – with one mobile phone often having to be shared between four or five people in a household

Pupils at Erdington Hall Primary School, Birmingham receive a delivery of laptops from Mailforce+

So Mrs Cotterill and her pupils were delighted to receive a delivery of four boxes of laptops last week, courtesy of the Mail Force charity, which she said will be crucial in helping pupils to catch up.

The headteacher said the school provided up to four hours of online lessons a day when it was closed, but added: ‘We are at the centre of what is quite a deprived community and it has been a struggle for some families. Nobody should think that just because lockdown is over, there will no longer be a need for laptops. Children will be catching up at home for months to come because lockdown represented lost learning time.’

She said of the Mail Force delivery of 20 Dynabook Satellite Pro laptops: ‘These devices look like they are brand new. I’m amazed. We’re very grateful.’

The school in north-east Birmingham previously received around 50 laptops from the Department for Education and purchased additional devices using its own funds.

Vice-principal David Barker said: ‘Schools like ours need as many laptops as they can get. When we rolled out the earlier laptops we immediately saw engagement (in online lessons) increase.’

At Erdington Hall, 56 per cent of the 383 pupils speak English as a second language. Some families at the school, which is part of the Summit Learning Trust and is rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted, are refugees.

Other pupils come from a domestic violence refuge – having been forced to flee their homes, sometimes leaving behind vital phones or other devices.

While some schools in wealthier areas have received donations of laptops or other resources from parents or the wider community, Mrs Cotterill, who grew up in Erdington, said her local community ‘just do not have [them] to give’.

Parts of the suburb, including the ward where the school is situated, are in the top ten per cent of deprived areas in England.

On hand to meet the Mail Force delivery on Thursday was Khadija, nine, as well as sisters Olivia, six, Abigail, seven, and ten-year-old Caitlyn, who told how her family had to share one laptop between four children during lockdown.

She said: ‘It took a long time for us all to be able to do our work. It was really difficult to share.’

Another pupil, Dania, aged nine, added: ‘I’m happy to be back at school so I can work hard with my friends. I have missed being with them in lockdown.’

Mrs Cotterill added: ‘Even though schools have reopened again, the effects of the pandemic are still being felt. When the children are working remotely, we can use these laptops to monitor engagement online – we can see who has logged in and who hasn’t.’

Mail Force has teamed up with Vodafone to make thousands of SIMs available free of charge. Mrs Cotterill has successfully applied for 50 cards, each providing 30GB of data – enough for about nine weeks of learning – through the scheme.

HOW TO DONATE TO COMPUTERS FOR KIDS 

CLICK HERE TO DONATE 

TO YOU, THE READER: How to send us donations 

The Daily Mail has launched a brand new campaign, Computers For Kids, to raise money for Mail Force – a charity which aims to provide much needed school equipment and resources for pupils across the UK learning from home.

With schools closed, we are left with the dilemma of hundreds of thousands of pupils in the UK having no access to a computer in their home.

As part of this campaign, companies are donating their old laptops which, for around £15, can be wiped, professionally refurbished and made safe and fit for home schooling. They can then be delivered to a child or young person who needs one.

In addition, the campaign is looking to support children’s needs in other ways such as funding brand new laptops and tablets, and assisting with data access and connectivity for online learning. Any surplus funds will be used to support of the work of UK schools via other means.

TO MAKE A DONATION ONLINE

Visit mailforcecharity.co.uk/donate and follow the steps to complete your donation. 

Please don’t send us your old device.

TO COMPANIES: Could you give your old laptops?

Upgrading office computers is something all companies do from time to time – and there has never been a better time to donate old laptops. If you are a company with 50 laptops or more that you could give, please visit www.computacenter.com/daily-mail to check they are suitable and register your donation. We will arrange for collection by our specialist partners Computacenter. Please note: we cannot accept donated laptops from individuals.

COMPANIES SHOULD GO TO: computacenter.com/daily-mail 

TO SCHOOLS: Where to apply for the computers

Schools must apply to the Department for Education, which is managing the demand and prioritising the schools most in need. The Mail Force initiative means more laptops will become available more quickly.

SCHOOLS CAN APPLY HERE: https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk

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