BGCBC Supporting digitally excluded pupils

Published: 05 June 2020

Supporting digitally excluded pupils

New project will help more pupils to learn at home..

Blaenau Gwent Council is working with its schools and IT provider, the Shared Resource Service (SRS), to support digitally excluded children & young people across the County Borough. The Welsh Government have provided financial support to support the developments.

Since schools closed as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic, parents/carers have been encouraged to continue with learning at home by using a range of online resources, and our teaching staff have been working hard to set work, provide support and engage learners.

By working with schools and parents, we have identified that there are approximately 1,400 pupils who are currently digitally excluded, either through a lack of connectivity (WIFI) at home or by not having access to a suitable electronic device.

Thanks to funding from the Welsh Government, the Council, schools and the SRS have embarked on a new project to refurbish end of life devices that are considered suitable within schools and distribute them to these learners. The Council has also purchased a number of MIFI devices to provide home internet access for those learners that don’t have it.

The work has already started on refurbishing these devices and the project partners have started to distribute safely the devices to pupils on a priority basis, focusing on the most vulnerable pupils and higher year groups first.

Councillor Joanne Collins, Executive Member for Education in Blaenau Gwent says:

“Schools across the country had to close quickly in the interests of public health, and we found ourselves in an unprecedented situation where local authorities and schools had to move fast to make the move to remote learning.

Although there is to be a phased approach to schools re-opening at the end of June, it’s clear that online learning is here to stay, and is part of the ‘new normal’ for our children and young people. It’s important that every pupil regardless of their circumstances is able to access learning in this way and not be disadvantaged. I am very proud of the way we have worked swiftly and positively with our schools and our IT teams to come up with a solution to support these pupils and their families.”