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Laptop scheme to support home learning

National lockdown: Stay at home. You must not leave your home unless necessary. Find out what you can and cannot do.

Middlesbrough Council is working closely with schools around the town to overcome challenges presented by home learning.

Thousands of children are now doing their classwork from home after the country went back into lockdown.

Not all children have access to equipment or the internet allowing them to access live lessons or tasks at home.

Council staff are meeting with headteachers to fully understand the scale of the logistical challenge.

Because while some schools have excellent IT provision, others require more support to keep children online.

Before the latest lockdown was confirmed, the Council committed to fund a leasing scheme to support children forced to self-isolate when schools were open.

Fifty laptops and internet dongles are now available.

The Council acknowledges the demand for support now far outstrips that initiative.

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: "One of my biggest concerns throughout the crisis has been the impact Covid is having on children.

"The young people of Middlesbrough are the future of our town and we must do everything we can to help them get through this disruption to their education.

"We want as level a playing field as possible. No child should be left behind at school because they can't get online at home. We put together a scheme last month to support kids who were self-isolating - clearly the challenge has now grown.

Cllr Mieka Smiles, Executive Member for Communities and Education, said: "Headteachers and their staff have had to react to a fast-moving situation at the start of the New Year.

"They're doing everything for the sake of their students and we're now waiting for news from the Department for Education on further laptop provision.

"The efforts of everyone working in schools have been nothing short of heroic. I know how much hard work is going into the logistics of home learning while also teaching the vulnerable youngsters and the children of keyworkers.

"We'll continue to support schools in as many different ways as we can."

Schools and trusts can request mobile data increases for children and young people who don't have fixed broadband at home or can't afford additional allowances for their devices. More information is available here: https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk/about-increasing-mobile-data

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