Why providing computers to Sheffield’s young people would ‘help enormously’

As a campaign - which is pledging Sheffield firms to donate computers to the city’s disadvantaged young people - gets underway, teachers and parents are hoping their children benefit from the scheme.
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Sheffield College is just one of the many educational establishments in the city hoping to provide their disadvantaged students with a computer.

With many schools now conducting more online learning, it has become a challenge in trying to accommodate every student.

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James Smythe, Assistant Principal for Student Experience at Sheffield College, said: “We’re doing all we can but having the additional support would be fantastic.”

James Smythe, Assistant Principal for Student Experience at Sheffield College.James Smythe, Assistant Principal for Student Experience at Sheffield College.
James Smythe, Assistant Principal for Student Experience at Sheffield College.

With 16,000 students currently at the college, he believes many would benefit from the Laptops for Kids scheme.

He told how last year, 57 per cent of students at the college were living in a ‘disadvantaged postcode area’ so there is ‘a lot of work still to do’.

During lockdown, students studying vocational subjects were still able to go into college to complete their qualifications, while others were studying at home.

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With an increased focus on online learning, James believes providing computers to students who currently have no access would ‘help enormously’.

Sheffield Collge City Campus.Sheffield Collge City Campus.
Sheffield Collge City Campus.

He said: “We’re doing everything we can do so that all students can learn, so no groups or individuals get left behind.”

James believes it is important for students' progression in later life but also important from a mental health perspective.

He added: “It’s not widening the attainment gap, so they can continue with further education.

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“It’s also important for contact, in terms of health and well-being. If we have another lockdown, there’s still that contact.”

James told how the college recently launched a mental health support tool, which is free to all students.

Although it has proven successful, only students who have internet access are able to access it, which James believes is another problem.

He said: “Even families with a computer require additional support.”

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Stephen Betts, chief executive at Learn Sheffield, is currently making plans in regards to how computers will be distributed to schools and how they will be allocated. More details will follow in due course.

If you know of, or are a business that can donate computers to the Laptops for Kids campaign, email [email protected].

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