Bridging the digital divide: High Sheriff donates laptops to pupils

robery bloomfield camilla king and sam farmer

Robert Bloomfield Academy senior assistant principal Colin Marshall, left, and principal Sam Farmer, right, receive the Chromebooks from Camilla King, centre, who was deputising for the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire at the laptop delivery - Credit: BEST Academies

A delivery of laptops to Shefford's Robert Bloomfield Academy is set to "level the playing field" and help more pupils access remote learning during the current lockdown.

On Friday, February 5, the middle school - which is part of the Bedfordshire Schools Trust - received 25 Chromebooks as part of a county-wide initiative aimed at tackling the digital divide.

The programme was set up by the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire Susan Lousada after the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the issue of young people who live in ‘digital poverty’ – where they don’t have the equipment they need to learn from home.

The Chromebooks come on top of an allocation of devices from the Department for Education, which the school distributed to its most in-need pupils.

Senior assistant principal Colin Marshall said after that rollout, it became apparent there were still students struggling with remote learning.

This was possibly because they had to share a computer with a family member, could only use their mobile phone, or just didn’t have the technology to engage in live or pre-recorded content.

Mr Marshall said: “We are extremely grateful for the support of the High Sheriff. These devices will make a huge difference to a number of our students, and level the playing field in terms of capacity to engage with remote learning.

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“Some students have never owned a device like this, and therefore it will also offer them the chance to learn valuable life skills that will support them in their further education.”

The initiative, called Bedfordshire Learning Link, works in partnership with council children’s services departments and charities across the county.

In a personal note to Robert Bloomfield Academy, the High Sheriff wrote: “I would very much like to acknowledge the support we have received from local businesses and the general public for the funding of these devices.

“While we have received much support from various trusts and charities, I would like to extend my special thanks to Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation, Bedford Educational Association, the Gale Family Trust and Bedfordshire Crimebeat.”

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