Duran Duran: Save a PrayeriTunesAmazon

Duran Duran: Save a PrayeriTunesAmazon

Coronavirus: Hundreds of laptops for disadvantaged pupils in North Yorkshire delivered three months late

Coronavirus: Hundreds of laptops for disadvantaged pupils in North Yorkshire delivered three months late

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Jacob Webster at 2:37pm 30th June 2020. (Updated at 2:39pm 30th June 2020)

Hundreds of laptops to be provided to disadvantaged school children in North Yorkshire have been delivered -  almost three months after the government pledged to help vulnerable pupils through the coronavirus crisis.

  • The government pledged to help vulnerable pupils in North Yorkshire through the coronavirus crisis by providing hundreds of laptops.  
  • The devices have now been delivered - three months later.  
  • The education secretary claimed there have been issues with “huge demand”.  

The education secretary Gavin Williamson announced in April that the government would provide 830 devices to help students in the county learn from home.

However, delivery has been hit by delays, with Mr Williamson claiming there have been issues with “huge demand” for the devices during the pandemic.

After shipments from overseas were prioritised, the laptops were last week delivered to North Yorkshire County Council which said on Monday it is working to distribute them to pupils “over the next couple of weeks”.

Coun Geoff Webber, leader of the Liberal Democrats on the county council, said the delays are “entirely unacceptable”.

He said:

“The education secretary announced this package on 19 April and it will be close to three months’ delay before we see anything practical to support these children’s education.

“This is yet another symptom of just how unprepared we were for an event like this.”

Man on laptop

The promise of technology comes in response to worries that pupils from poorer families are losing out during the weeks out of school.

Before the laptops were delivered, it was estimated there were around one million children nationally who did not have access to learning devices or internet connections at home.

It also comes as students are facing the prospect of more home learning after the government this month scrapped plans for all primary pupils to return before the summer holidays.

Some secondary school students with key exams next year have made a phased return to classes – and it is now the government’s aim to get all children back to school in September.

Stuart Carlton, the county council’s corporate director of children and young people’s services, said it is “focused on making sure no child’s education loses out as a result of the pandemic."

He said:

“Along with North Yorkshire’s schools, are working hard to make sure every pupil in the county gets to where they need to be in their academic progress.”

The council said it has ordered a further 159 computers for disadvantaged year 10 pupils which will be distributed “as soon as possible”.

It is also sending out 4G mobile hotspot devices to children who have poor internet connections at home.