Wirral dad restores old laptops for school kids

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Bridging the digital divide / ©Lee Anson

A kind hearted Wirral dad has been collecting and restoring old laptops and tablets to provide to schools across the peninsula.

Following the Department of Education’s scheme to donate devices to struggling families, Lee Anson from Saughall Massie, discovered many children could not access remote teaching and learning and so began an independent donation page on Facebook to help his community.

The 31-year-old IT specialist has been working around the clock to ensure computer access for children who need it most through lockdown.

He said: “The way I look at it, if there’s a child out there who hasn’t got a device then they need to be provided with that device through the school. Even if it is on a loan basis where the school gets it back, but something needs to be done.

“The Department of Education have sent out devices, but I was speaking to one head teacher where they gave the device out to a family, but because it was the same household, they were only allowed the one device. They had eight children in that house. How can eight children of different age groups who are learning different things use one device? It doesn’t make sense so this is where I decided to step in to do as much as I could.”

What started out as a small Facebook page has led to over 220 laptops being donated to 38 schools in less than a month, and the father-of-two is continuing to accept donations in a bid to help resolve the issue.

He said: “The response has been outstanding. The schools especially, when we’ve been to deliver the devices, they think they’re going to get just one or two and we’ve been giving them out in batches, with a minimum of five.

“Some of the schools in the more deprived areas, where we know there’s going to be more kids, we’ve given them 10. When they see how much they’re getting, the reactions from the head teachers have been absolutely fantastic.”

Lee Anson is fixing and donating laptops for schools

Vital support for schools / ©Lee Anson

Katy Bird, head teacher of Leasowe Primary School, has received donations from Mr Anson that allowed all her pupils to access remote teaching and learning.

Ms Bird believes the government is turning a blind eye on working families who are considered able to sustain themselves financially, but are only scraping eligibility for free school meals which is what determines who can access a device.

The government scheme also only covers students in Key Stage 2, which means Key Stage 1 and junior years have been unable to access support.

She said: “I can speak on behalf of all Wirral head teachers that everybody is just completely overwhelmed by Lee’s kindness, it’s just amazing for all Wirral children.

“It is a significant amount of families that are being forgotten about, this is a really tough time. Schools are no longer places of academic tuition. Schools are becoming family centres and we’ve all got to be doing more, so we’re also doing things like delivering hampers.

“The laptop donations allowed us to bridge that gap freely to give those families who the government were not targeting a device so that they can take part in remote learning.”

The school has had to step in more than once following what have been described as multiple government failures, such as launching their own personal food bank to ensure all families have access to meals after head teachers were advised to stop supplying food vouchers and food parcels to disadvantaged children during the half term.

Added Ms Bird: “We’ve been doing that (food bank) throughout the entire of Covid-19. We’ve got food that staff bring in that other families donate to us. We also have a free breakfast scheme at our school. We’re open from 8 o’clock in the morning for any child to come in and have a free breakfast. We were doing things like that before Covid-19, but we’ve developed it slightly.”

You can get involved and donate a laptop or tablet here

Listen to our interview with Katy Bird, head teacher of Leasowe Primary School>>>


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