Lancaster University is leading a fundraising initiative supported by Vodafone UK, providing 350 Unlimited Data SIMs to disadvantaged school pupils across the Lancaster region.
The SIMs will be accompanied by mobile devices and laptops, distributed by local schools to Year 10 students who have had had trouble navigating the disruption caused by the COVID-19 lockdown.
The coronavirus outbreak has accelerated the education sector’s digital transition, forcing schools across the country and the world to deliver learning content online. The situation has been challenging for many, but particularly so for low-income families without adequate access to technology.
“The pandemic has impacted everyone in the UK but is hitting the most vulnerable in our society the hardest,” said Helen Lamprell, general counsel and external affairs director at Vodafone UK.
“We recognise that technology can play a huge part in making peoples’ lives easier; I’m really pleased that our connectivity will enable children across Lancashire to continue to access their education.”
Victoria Michael, Morecambe Bay Academy principal and co-ordinator of the efforts for local schools, commented: “Digital poverty means having no access to online education, due to a lack of device or internet connection in the family home. Educationally, those children who are entitled to free school meals achieve far lower outcomes nationally compared to their peers. This pandemic is widening that gap daily as some children still have access to learning and some do not. This is why connecting kids is so important.
“Local businesses and Lancaster University have worked together with school leaders to try and solve this problem quickly. We think this will make a real difference to the families involved and enable the students to stay connected with their schools, and each other.”
The project forms part of the ‘Connecting Kids’ initiative developed by a consortium of providers across Lancaster and Morecambe, including Lancaster University, Lancaster City Council, Lancaster & Morecambe College, local schools and businesses and Eden Project International.
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