In March 2021, the CAA STEM team supported the Digital Divide Initiative in support of STEM Learning
Even in 2021 when technology and internet access is considered open to all, digital exclusion is still an issue faced by many across the UK. Research shows a direct correlation between low-income families and those who are offline; in 2019 nearly half (47%) of people ‘offline’ came from low-income households. (https://www.cam.ac.uk/stories/digitaldivide).
STEM Hub of the South East approached the CAA to see if we could help to support schools where there was a lack of technological equipment. In response, the AA updated devices and offered Lenovo ThinkPad laptops to be sent to the initiative. These computers were all individually packaged, updated and checked to ensure they were fit for purpose and at the beginning of March, 267 were ready for collection.
The computers, distributed by STEM Hub, have been gifted to primary and secondary schools in and around the Gatwick area, including Crawley. We are pleased to report the initiative has had a great response from teachers and schools.
The response from one of the headteachers from a primary academy was:
Our children will benefit hugely so we are incredibly grateful. We surveyed our families at the start of this lockdown and found that 130 of our 560 children had no access to a device at all. That number dramatically increased once we realised that many parents had classified their phone as a ‘device’ – they had ticked ‘yes’ to access when the reality was there were 3+ children sharing their mum’s mobile.
We loaned out a whole load of school chromebooks in an attempt to get one into each home but are having to recall those now so they can be used in class. Without a doubt learning will never be completely the same again but it wasn’t all negative by any means. Classes are still being run online because children who are isolating/shielding are joining in virtually with those in school, assuming they have a device that is. It still astounds me how much had to change in the course of year and how amazingly adaptable the children have been
Holy Trinity CE school, where Richard, the assistant head said: “Wow, I am speechless!
It is people like you and these types of initiatives, which really do make a huge difference to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged young people in society. These young people may not thank you in person, but they will be eternally grateful that someone out there has gone out of their way to help bridge that divide in society.”
All the laptops gifted by the CAA were delivered to schools where they will be shared with the families in most need.
Karen Collins, Business Support Manager, ISD, CAA STEM Sponsor commented ‘We are delighted to have been able to provide our support on this project. It is very rewarding to know that the donated laptops will help to make a difference to local families to support their children’s’ education and studies.’
The CAA is proud to have been involved in such an amazing initiative which will have a direct benefit to so many school children in the local area. Personally, I am really pleased with what my Team have achieved in responding to this worthy cause and hope we can continue to provide support in the future.