Council to fund e-learning devices for home-schooled children
South Ribble Borough Council has committed £20,000 towards the provision of e-learning tablets for disadvantaged children being home-schooled due to COVID-19.
Local families have faced enormous pressure as a result of enforced school closures - particularly those who don't have access to the necessary technology.
Now an executive cabinet decision has been made to use money from reserve funds to launch a pilot project targeting four of the most deprived parts of the borough.
The scheme will initially run across Bamber Bridge, Kingsfold in Penwortham and the Broadfield and Wade Hall areas of Leyland; and will provide devices to children who would not otherwise have access to them.
Schools will also be able to keep the devices once children are able to return to classrooms.
Councillor Matthew Tomlinson, Cabinet Member for Finance, Property and Assets at South Ribble Borough Council, said: "It fills me with pride to have signed this executive decision. Initiatives like this remind me why I first became a councillor in 1999: to create opportunities, hope and prospects for those who are not afforded them; and to find creative solutions for our community so that we can all thrive and prosper.
"We have committed £20,000 to the provision of tablets to children who are being home-schooled, but who do not have the necessary technology to access e-learning. This equates to 151 devices for some of South Ribble's most vulnerable children.
"I am really looking forward to hearing stories of schoolchildren receiving and then using their new kit - it will be such a highlight amid what is a really tough time at the moment.
"Finally, I am really pleased to say that all the devices allocated to children will remain in the ownership of the school even after this period of home-schooling comes to an end - so it will also help schools with learning resources in the long run.
"This council is determined not to let the COVID-19 pandemic disrupt children's education and development and we are confident that this £20,000 will go a long way to supporting their learning."
Schools in the area have already been able to apply for a central government grant under the 'Get Help With Technology' scheme. However, a further tightening of government guidelines restricting classroom spots to the children of 'critical workers' only has led to even more pupils being adversely affected.
The Council has been liaising with schools to see where there is still a need for further support with regard to the provision of devices.