Young people across Derby will be able to continue their online studies at home after a Hazelwood company donated dozens of laptops and bought a host of dongles to allow them to bridge the city’s digital divide.
The children, who attend a number of schools in the city’s most deprived areas, have all taken delivery of the new technology in the past few weeks, courtesy of staff at county chemical firm Lubrizol.
The company stepped up to make a difference after hearing how thousands of pupils across the city were falling behind in their studies because they were unable to log on to lessons taking place over the internet during the most recent lockdown.
Earlier this month, Lubrizol gave 23 unwanted laptops to Derby City Council’s organisation Enterprise for Education as part of the Digital Divide Derby appeal, which has been led by Derby County Community Trust and aims to help families experiencing digital poverty.
Fifteen of the laptops were donated to The Bemrose School, while the remaining eight have been distributed to other schools across the city.
In a separate gesture, Lubrizol donated £250 to the St James Church of England Junior School in Reginald Street to purchase dongles and online data to allow more students to access online learning during lockdown.
The donation followed a discussion between St James School teacher Helen Boyer and her brother-in-law Mike Boyer, who works for Lubrizol.
Although all students are now back at school, the technology and dongles will still continue to be useful because it will allow them to complete their homework, access online educational games at home and also return to online lessons if a year group or individual has to self-isolate.
Scott Conroy, IT manager for Lubrizol UK said: “We all understand how difficult life has been for students who have been unable to get access to the internet or who have not had a laptop on which to carry out their studies, so we’re delighted to have been able to help.
“We change our laptops every few years and as part of this process we ensure that they are sent away and are reused. When we heard that laptops were needed in Derby, we all decided we wanted to send some of them to students and it’s wonderful to think that they are now being used by the scientists of tomorrow who might well end up working for Lubrizol one day.”
Executive head teacher Neil Wilkinson said: “We are very grateful for the donation of additional IT equipment for our pupils – we believe only 50% of our cohort has access to a suitable device or wifi at home, so during lockdown much of the work set was delivered to pupils in paper packs.
“We live in a digital world and computer equipment remains essential for so much of the curriculum. Although widespread home schooling has hopefully gone for good, we still anticipate bubbles and individuals needing to work from home as the pandemic continues.
“We’d like to thank E4E and Lubrizol for this welcome donation. The digital divide has been glaringly obvious during the last 12 months and donations like this certainly help to bridge that gulf.”