Thousands of secondary and post-16 students in Sheffield unable to access online learning as lockdown starts

Up to 5,000 secondary-age and post-16 students in Sheffield are ‘being denied their right to an education’ after last night’s decision to close schools during a third lockdown.

Tuesday, 5th January 2021, 12:30 pm

It was announced by Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, that colleges, primary and secondary schools are to remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of key workers, and all other children must learn remotely until February half-term.

Many young people in Sheffield have been left unable to access online learning due to not having a suitable device.

David Richards, chief executive of WANdisco - who launched the Laptops for Kids campaign with The Star and Learn Sheffield - said: “There is an urgent need to help thousands of families in Sheffield and further afield as teaching moves online.

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Laptops for Kids campaign launch in Sheffield. David Richards with Abtisam Mohamed Labour Councillor for the Firth Park Ward Cabinet Member for Education and Skills.

“It is unjust that young people are being denied their right to an education just because they cannot access the internet at home.

“We urge companies with surplus laptops, tablets and PCs to get in touch and make donations.

“Any individuals who were lucky enough to receive a new device at Christmas could donate their old ones to Laptops for Kids.”

More than 4,000 devices have been donated but more are needed to close the digital divide in Sheffield.

It is hoped the campaign can eventually be rolled out across Yorkshire and the north of England.

Donation process:

- Businesses and individuals pledge to donate laptops, tablets, desktops and chargers via the Laptops for Kids website - donors can securely erase devices themselves or alternatively, the campaign can arrange for the certified secure erasure of devices.

- Donors drop off their devices at locations in central Sheffield including Cutlers’ Hall, Twinkl and Learn Sheffield.

- For devices with data erasure needs, students at The Sheffield College securely erase devices under the guidance of experts at the WANdisco Data Academy. They are using licences and certification donated by data security firm, Blancco. Students learn about data security, supply chain management and contributing to the community as part of work experience.

- Once certifiably clean, the devices are equipped with educational software and a free subscription to Natterhub, a digital literacy platform to introduce children to online safety.

- Learn Sheffield is then ready to distribute the certified erased devices to schools, according to need.

For more information, visit: www.LTFK.co.uk

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.