In the UK, we currently going through our third national lockdown. With schools being shut again. It has been a challenging time for both the education system and parents. I am a parent myself with a child that is at school age. I am also feeling the brunt of it this time round, even more so than the first national lockdown. I can understand the struggles for parents having to homeschool and I can certainly understand household with working parents and/or more than one child that also need a laptop for home schooling. This is just scratching the surface of the problem. There are vulnerable children from disadvantaged backgrounds with zero access to any device. The problem is very real.
I was absolutely delighted to hear when Vision Direct (the largest online contact lens retailer) decided to step in and help some schools with this laptop situation. Band new laptops have been delivered to six schools across London: St. Dunstan’s Cheam, CofE Primary School, Highams Park School, All Souls C of e Primary School, Rhyl Primary School, Hackney New School and Ruislip Gardens School.
While the government has supplied a number of laptops to schools in England, it has struggled to deliver the amount needed to meet demand. Therefore, Vision Direct stepped in to fill this gap by purchasing £10,000 of new laptops and donating them directly to the schools in need, who will then distribute the laptops to families on their lengthy waiting lists.
Personally, I also totally agree with Ashley Mealor’s statement (Chief Marketing Officer from Vision Direct);
“Like countless others, we’ve made the switch to operating remotely and our business would not have been able to continue functioning without the proper technology to keep us connected. We want to ensure that all children have that technology too, as they battle the challenges of remote learning.”
During this pandemic, we all had to make a switch quickly to adapt to the changing landscape. Without technology, we may face even more challenges. It is technology that is currently keeping us connected whether it is for work, keeping in touch with family and friends and of course the education for our children.
With my child’s school, we have had some challenges too. The school have reacted really slowly with remote learning. I am not sure whether that is down to resources issues or the lack of training within the staff. We once got offered a laptop (the laptop from Department For Education) because we have asked the school to send documents in PDF format so all machines can open and read it since it is universal format. I am telling you this story because it frightens me that a laptop was so easily offered to us when the solution was just to save a document in PDF. That is why I also question if staff in schools have been given adequate training with technology and told what is the best way to move forward in this pandemic to give each child a fair chance in education.
How many of these laptops has been offered to families by accident across England? We are not a family in need of a laptop, we are in a fortunate position. I strongly feel laptops should only be offered to families who genuinely need one. It was also worrying when my child’s school headteacher also did not see any issues with offering us a laptop, they felt it was the right thing to do. It really brings these education issues to light and more needs to be done to better prepare the education system how to navigate through this pandemic. Every child deserves a fairer chance to be educated.
This is why I want to shout what an amazing job Vision Direct is doing (they also gave free contact lenses to key workers back in May 2020). More needs to be done still for our children. This pandemic will go on for a little longer than we all would like but it will not be forever. For now, we all need to adjust and adapt the best we can to get through this period of uncertainty.
Photo credit: Annie Spratt via Unsplash.