Plea for help getting laptops as schoolchildren miss lessons

Daniel Beal

Daniel Beal is getting to work rebooting his old devices ready for schools, and appealing for residents to do the same. - Credit: Daniel Beal

Following reported laptop shortages at Rainham schools, residents are appealing for donations of old laptops.

South Hornchurch councillor Natasha Summers says her eight-year-old, who goes to Newtons Primary, is unable to do her schoolwork on the only device at hand, a Samsung android tablet.

She says: "The school's doing the best they can, trying to teaching online with Google classroom but we haven't got the equipment that fits the criteria, working on old telephones which have compatibility issues. They give up and her teacher said she wasn't doing the work.

"We're struggling, we can't afford it. A lot of us are single parents, and lots of dads are on furlough. Not everyone's got wi-fi, printer and ink."

Natasha says that after speaking to other parents, she discovered three to four children are using the same device to get their schoolwork done and in one case, a primary school child is only getting around to doing their work at 9pm, with their secondary-age siblings taking priority for upcoming tests.


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"Some schools need more laptops than others, there should be more assessment with criteria on needs basis".

Natasha has been lucky enough to have help at hand from caring neighbours. Daniel Beal, an Orchard Village resident redundant IT engineer has offered his laptop to Natasha's daughter and on hearing about the situation at Rainham schools, wants to spur companies into donating their laptops into filling this device shortage.

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He says speaking to parents with pupils at Rainham Village School and Newtons Primary, there have been a shorthand for devices at the two schools.

"The stock levels are just not there," he says. "Maybe it's because of Brexit or coronavirus or both, but there just aren't enough devices."

Having worked in large tech companies in central London, managing IT projects, Daniel says he knows that lots of big corporates have lots of old laptops "just rotting away" and with his IT skills, he is willing to reboot them and update ready to be used for schoolwork.

He said: "I can support parents with the IT side, but there's got to be more like me, who can help us."

"We want to get to a scenario where we can fill that gap, kids have already had nearly a year out already, we don't when we're going be coming out [of lockdown], they are the future workforce, it's important and they can't be a forgotten generation."

Councillor Damian White, leader of Havering, said: “Havering Council has been supporting schools during the pandemic to ensure that pupils, parents and carers have access everything they need to help them with remote education and online learning during the lockdown.

“For example, since last summer we have made sure that over 900 Department of Education (DfE) devices made it to vulnerable children.

“In addition to this, schools are able to request additional devices if they need them from the DfE, subject to availability.”

The distribution of the laptops were based on criteria as set by the DfE.

So far Essex PCs and Rainham Steel have come forward, please email ftdaniel.beal@gmail.com if you can help.

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