Child with laptop

Digital device support for children and young people

Northumberland County Council has committed to providing more children and young people with digital devices and internet access to assist them in remote learning.

The council has a number of schemes in place to support those in the county that do not already have access to a suitable device or to the internet.

Councillor Guy Renner-Thompson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Children’s Services said: “It is vitally important that our children and young people have access to what they need to be able to learn from home. The move to remote learning during the first lockdown, and during the current lockdown, has highlighted the number of young people who do not have access to a suitable device to access online learning, and whilst remote learning is not exclusively online, schools have been asked to provide online remote learning to a greater degree than previously and we are committed to supporting our children and young people in accessing the learning on offer to them.”

Schemes to get devices to those children and young people in need have seen over 2,500 laptops or Chromebooks distributed since last April;
917 devices and 116 dongles have been provided to children and young people aged 0 to 19 with a social worker, and disadvantaged year 10 pupils in schools across the county through a Department for Education funded scheme with a further 1020 devices provided to those disadvantaged children in years 3 to 11 who do not have access to a device and whose face-to-face education is disrupted, disadvantaged children in any year group who have been advised to shield because they (or someone they live with) are clinically extremely vulnerable.

Patrick said; "I'm really pleased with the laptop. I've been using it to complete my schoolwork and today used Google translate for my German lesson. My Mum also says that's it's been a lifesaver and has changed the lock down experience from last time."

Leoni said; "I'm really happy with the laptop - it's good. I can meet up with my classmates on screen. My Mum also says that I couldn't work without it as we don't have enough devices in the household for everyone."

A further 252 devices through the council’s own refurbishment programmes are being used to support schools and their pupils in need. 

Gillian Linkleter, Headteacher for Collingwood School and Media Arts College said; "This has made a huge difference to the pupils. As a school we have received 48 devices which means that the pupils can access the remote learning packages and continue with their education. It has also meant that pupils who could potentially be isolated can interact with their peers and teachers. They are also able to access therapy services with videos and online sessions."
Schools have also been able to apply for ‘data allowance’ support for those pupils that do not have sufficient access to the internet at home. The Department for Education are supporting a scheme to increase the data allowances on mobile devices to support disadvantaged children. This scheme temporarily increases data allowances for mobile phone users on certain networks. This is so that children and young people can access remote education where their face-to-face education has been disrupted.
Councillor Nick Oliver, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Corporate Services said: “We will do all we can to support our schools.  
We have already received much-needed funding from the North of Tyne Combined Authority, but our commitment does not stop there. Our teams will continue to look at options and these schemes show just some of the ways that is happening across the county already.”
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