'Children have been able to keep up to speed' - teachers hail impact of laptop campaign amid school return

Melodie Fearns, headteacher at St George's Primary School in Great Yarmouth, said that whichever soc

Melodie Fearns, headteacher at St George's Primary School in Great Yarmouth, said that whichever social distancing precautions or PPE requirements applied in the rest of society "didn't seem to apply to schools". Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant

Teachers have hailed the impact of the campaign to ensure every child has access to online learning, weeks after it was announced the target for laptop donations had been surpassed.

The Every Child Online campaign by this newspaper alongside Norfolk Community Foundation (NCF) and Norfolk County Council has successfully supplied more than 5,300 laptops to children in need across the county.

At St Georges Primary School in Great Yarmouth, head teacher Melodie Fearns said children had been able to seamlessly switch between online and in-person learning thanks to the 120 devices they received.

Ivan Sarti, IT Director of Lotus Cars and Kenny Newbegin, ICT Solutions at Norfolk County Council at County Hall yesterday...

Ivan Sarti, IT Director of Lotus Cars and Kenny Newbegin, ICT Solutions at Norfolk County Council at County Hall yesterday as the car manufacturer donated 625 new Chromebooks to the Every Child Online campaign. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

She said: "Because it was live working throughout the day we feel that the children didn't really lose too much. As we come back on site the children have kept up to speed and haven't fallen behind like they did in lockdown one.

"Those working from home could get on with their own lives or carry on doing the housework if they weren't working."

Ms Fearns insisted families kept hold of laptops in case children needed to return to remote learning due to a positive Covid test, a move which helped enormously as one class had already had to close.

Children need a laptop or tablet for homeschool.

Children need a laptop or tablet for homeschool. - Credit: Sonya Duncan


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She added: "We haven't collected them in because we weren't sure how these few months were going to go. Although parents were desperate to bring them back we had to send them home again.

"It's just as well we did because we didn't make a full week as we've already had one class close, but we're back into how we were during lockdown which they can pick up straight away.

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"If they need to use the laptops on site they then have their own device which stops any cross contamination, rather than what we used to do with our laptop trolley of 30 which was just to hand them out and collect them in."

At Heartwood Primary School in Swaffham, head teacher Emily McMillan said laptops had accelerated pupils' reading ability.

@heartwood.norfolk.sch.uk

Emily McMillan, headteacher at Heartwood Primary School in Swaffham. - Credit: Heartwood Primary School

She said: "A lot of our children were getting one to one reading interventions before and they couldn't access it when we went into lockdown because they didn't get the technology.

"But once they did they got the regular interventions for reading with their teachers and then when we did the assessment we found it had really helped accelerate their reading, so it's had a massive impact."

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