An independent school in Hammersmith has donated hundreds of dongles to disadvantaged children to help them access the internet during the coronavirus lockdown.
Latymer Upper School’s director of outreach, Katharine Danton, explained how she developed the project to support pupils across the local community struggling to study at home due to a lack of internet access, including some of the school’s own bursary students.
“As we prepared our school community for lockdown, we were aware of the challenges for some of our bursary students to access the internet from home,” said Danton.
“We immediately looked into a sustainable solution for them to ensure they were able to access the online learning we were providing. The most practical and simple method was to offer these students WiFi dongles to enable them to get online.
“As we were looking into this for our own pupils, we wondered how many other schools’ pupils might be in a similar situation. When we reached out to the heads of partner schools in our area, we found many of their students were also in the same boat. They were doing all they could to facilitate learning during lockdown, but their efforts were being frustrated by lack of access to the internet.”
They were doing all they could to facilitate learning during lockdown, but their efforts were being frustrated by lack of access to the internet
The digital divide has been highlighted in The Sutton Trust’s recent report as a national concern during the pandemic.
Danton was aided by Stuart Block, director of partnerships at St Paul’s School, in the project, who said: “This is a great initiative, something for us to work on together and reduce duplication in our partnership work. It’s a fantastic extension of our (recently formed) West London Partnership between several local schools across both sectors.”
The partnership allowed them to purchase 300 dongles and cover monthly costs until the end of the summer term.
Danton said they have had great feedback from schools. Krishna Purbhoo, executive principal at multi-academy trust TBAP (West), said: “The benefit to vulnerable families to have internet access cannot be underestimated as we try hard not to let the gap widen further between the disadvantaged learners and their peers. Thank you for helping our most vulnerable at TBAP schools in Hammersmith and Fulham.”