Every Child Online campaign launched

22 January 2021

A new campaign which aims to ensure every school age child has a digital device and internet connection to learn remotely at home has been launched today.

Norfolk County Council is working with Norfolk Community Foundation (NCF) on the campaign backed by the EDP newspaper to make sure no child is left behind in their learning because of digital disadvantage.

The campaign gives two ways to step up and help

  • Businesses and organisations can give pre-used corporate devices to the county council for refurbishment and distribution to schools. To donate email devices@norfolk.gov.uk
  • Individuals and businesses can give funding to the NCF to be spent on new laptops and tablets and internet connections. To donate visit the NCF website.

The county council has already co-ordinated the sourcing, prioritisation, and distribution of approximately 2,000 laptops and tablets, either directly to youngsters or to their schools – 500 of which have been directly provided by the council.

But it is estimated that Norfolk’s 430 schools and academies still need around 6,000 devices and at least 1,000 households with school-age children are unable to connect to the internet.

Cllr John Fisher, cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “We want to do as much as we can to help Norfolk’s schools to support their children’s learning while they are at home, so we’re launching this appeal today to get hundreds of devices to children and young people across the county.
“We know more equipment is getting to schools from the government and it’s fantastic that such great community spirit exists in Norfolk to help build on what is already on offer, so that every child who needs access to a laptop to learn has the help they need.

“We think there are a number of businesses and organisations in Norfolk who have ex-corporate kit they no longer need, so we appealing to them to help us help the county’s children by donating it as soon as possible so every child can have the best remote education possible during these difficult times.”

Claire Cullens, Chief Executive of Norfolk Community Foundation and Chair of the New Anglia LEP Skills Advisory panel said: “We know the need is out there for us to step up and fill locally to make sure our young people don’t get behind.

“I know the importance of every young person having the ability to learn and develop skills so that they can lead fulfilling adult lives.
“As a result of the pandemic our young people are trying to learn from home, which is hard enough without a teacher and friends alongside you, but even harder if you are denied access to learning opportunities because you don’t have the wi-fi or the necessary devices to do so. Every day of learning lost is another hurdle to climb. We need to change that and help them now. Your support today will change their lives tomorrow.”

David Powles, editor of the EDP and Norwich Evening News, said: "It's so vital that every single child is given access to a computer or laptop and I've seen first-hand just how important online access is to home schooling.

"Those children that have to go without risk being left behind their classmates through no fault of their own - and that is completely unacceptable.
"Of course, in the long-term we must continue to fight for more to be done to ensure online access for all , no matter where they are from or what their background, however there is a desperate need right now and we need to find a way to fill these gaps.

"I really hope people will be able to back this vital campaign."

With schools and academies closed to most youngsters until at least late February, the high level of need has arisen because most children are now expected to complete a full curricular day of learning. This means multiple devices may be needed to enable every child in a family to participate in online classes, with adults also working from home.

Schools are providing a full curriculum experience with teachers available to help children as they learn. Many schools can provide printed out packs if necessary, families facing difficulties accessing learning materials digitally should contact their school for help.

Norfolk County Council is working to address the need and co-ordinate the immediate response

  • Around 1,400 devices have already been delivered to schools for identified vulnerable children or issued directly to children with a social worker, supplied through a DfE scheme
  • A further 500 refurbished former Norfolk County Council devices have been issued to schools
  • The council’s Schools IT team has supported around 60 schools with either Microsoft or Google Platforms with more support ongoing
  • The team’s certified trainers for Google Education and Microsoft Education Global have been supporting schools expertise via online training and webinars
  • Norfolk Libraries service has been offering guidance and advice to families by creating ‘libraries at home’: with access to free eBooks, online resources and activities, and help to get online from library staff on the end of a telephone 01603 774777 from 10am-6pm Monday to Friday and 10am-4pm on Saturdays.

Action planned for the coming days includes

  • Deployment of 300 brand new devices to schools supplied by the Department for Education (DfE)
  • A further 200 Norfolk County Council reconditioned corporate laptops have been identified for schools with arrangements being made to deliver them within a week
  • Norfolk County Council’s Norfolk Assistance Scheme is currently fast-tracking requests for 381 devices

Donated pre-used devices will be tested, refurbished and distributed by the county council. The preferred tablets are Apple iPads or Samsung or Lenovo tablets, which work with the Play Store, or Chromebooks with a minimum of 2GB of RAM available. The minimum specification for laptops is Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 with a minimum i3 processor and minimum 4GB of RAM available.

Any second-hand devices should be wiped/reformatted. Advice and guidance is available on how to do this from devices@norfolk.gov.uk. Once received, the Schools IT Team will fully re-image devices into Windows 10 or Chromebook devices and issue to schools within a week of donation.

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