Chorley Council has stepped in to tackle digital exclusion across the borough by committing to provide home-schooling devices for local children.
25 March 2021
Recent consultation with schools in the area highlighted how many pupils found it difficult to learn from home during lockdown because they didn't have access to the proper technology.
Common problems included having to share with siblings or use unsuitable devices such as mobile phones or game consoles, while some had access to no equipment at all - in some cases forcing schools to take printed versions of exercises to pupils' homes.
More than 140 children were initially identified as requiring assistance. Since then, some of that need has been met by the schools' own resources or with the help of the Department of Education, local donations, or the newly-formed Chorley Digital Recycle Scheme.
However, at least 50 pupils still require support and Chorley Council will continue to work with all local schools to identify any additional need.
Devices will be obtained by the Council and distributed through schools to reach families who may have difficulty buying one themselves.
Schools will be able to keep the devices for future use once the pupils no longer need them.
Cllr Bev Murray, Chorley Council's Executive Member for Early Intervention, said: "COVID-19 has presented huge challenges for education, not least in ensuring our children have the equipment they need to carry on with their learning in testing circumstances.
"While pupils are now back in schools, the end of the lockdown is not the end of digital poverty and it remains incredibly important that every child has access to a digital device in order to learn from home.
"Whether it's for regular homework, during a time when a school bubble is required to isolate, or for any future lockdown, no child should be disadvantaged because they simply don't have access to the proper technology.
"The Council reached out to all local schools in the borough and received an overwhelming response, showing there was a real need for support with digital devices. We will now work with schools to ensure pupils are given the devices they need.
"Chorley Council is utterly committed to digital inclusion and this is part of our wider efforts to boost online access across the borough, through initiatives such as our Digital Hubs, ICT courses and our Digital Champions."
While Council officers have made attempts to contact all schools in the borough, some schools have not yet highlighted any need for additional support.
However, if this is not the case, schools are encouraged to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance.