No child left behind
Helping children homeschool during Lockdown
When a third COVID Lockdown hit the UK in January 2021, home-schooling once again became a reality for thousands of households. What quickly became apparent were unacceptable gaps in remote learning access for too many children, with stories emerging of families with no internet access, sharing one device amongst many and connectivity issues.
The scale of the problem hit home to the Trust’s Chief Executive, Dr Victoria Edwards, while listening to the radio on an early morning dog walk with Ted, her loyal westie. Struck by the urgency and inequality of the situation, she formulated a plan which, once approved by the Trustees, saw £500,000 redirected to this cause.
Within a few short weeks, the resulting Remote Learning Grant was directly helping to fund equipment, data and connectivity in homes across the UK.
Supporting young people’s learning is why we’re here. This will provide a real legacy beyond COVID-19. Having access to a laptop or tablet is not a luxury, it’s as fundamental as having a pencil case when most of us were at school.Dr Victoria Edwards, Chief Executive of The Ernest Cook Trust
Recognising that schools are best placed to decide how to allocate these funds for greatest impact, the Trust initially approached schools from their existing database who met the application criteria. After this first round of applications, all schools across the UK were invited to apply for the grant.
By early March, the entire £500,000 fund had been allocated.
“We have had Headteachers in tears with gratitude!” remarked Suzie Paton, Head of Grants at the Trust, who worked tirelessly with the Head Office team to ensure all applications were speedily processed with funds quickly transferred to successful bids.
In total, 213 primary, secondary and special schools across the UK benefitted from the Remote Learning Grant. In pre-pandemic times, the Trust would normally work alongside such schools helping to provide Outdoor Learning provision. As COVID restrictions made this largely impossible, diverting funds to support remote learning instead has been a welcome pivotal move, and a prime example of the Trust’s dynamic ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
The following response from a Headteacher encapsulates the gratitude expressed by so many towards the Trustees and everyone at the Trust:
I can’t begin to stress how vital receiving funding to purchase additional devices is to our school and how transformative it will be to the learning we can provide now and in the future. Additional devices mean no child will be left behind in this. We can’t thank The Ernest Cook Trust enough for their donation to our school; it will make both an immediate difference as well as supporting learning into the future.
(Second image shows children from Ark Burlington Danes Primary School, London, learning from home thanks to our Remote Learning Grant; image kindly supplied by @ArkSchools)