North West Academies Trust’s appeal for used laptops to help more children access online lessons has saved local schools approximately £100,000.
That’s the verdict of CEO Steve Docking, who says he has been overwhelmed by the generosity of people and businesses across Cheshire and Shropshire.
NWAT, who run eight schools, launched their campaign soon after the turn of the year when an audit found 150 of their pupils did not have a device with which to join online classrooms.
The Chester-based Trust quickly hit their initial target to accommodate their own children, but pushed on to help other schools in the surrounding areas.
Now Mr Docking has reported that more than 300 devices were donated during the drive, along with £1,000 worth of free WiFi dongles.
He said: “It’s been unbelievable really. What started with me sending out a couple of emails turned into a big effort involving many people who all wanted to lend a hand.
“In times of crises it’s important we all come together, and that has certainly been the case with this. Education is so important and we couldn’t stand back and allow children to miss lessons just because they did not have a laptop or tablet.
“The response we have received has been superb, and I’m so grateful to everyone who dug deep to help make a huge difference.
“Even after we covered all the children in the Trust we felt it important to help other schools in the area, and I’m delighted we have been able to do that.
“I think if we had paid to meet the shortfall, it would have cost in excess of £100,000 so this represents a huge saving which I’m very pleased with.”
The coronavirus lockdown has presented a huge challenge to schools, but teachers have worked hard to adapt lessons to online platforms.
To get all children involved, NWAT pledged to collect all donated devices, had them professionally wiped, and then distributed them where there was a need.
Members of staff at the schools, parents and governors all chipped in to help, and businesses in the area answered the call as the campaign gathered pace.
A number of donated devices did not function, but all were recycled and nothing was wasted.
NWAT, who boast a superb record of improving schools, run Grosvenor Park Academy, Acresfield Academy and St Martin’s Academy in Chester; Rudheath Senior Academy, Weaverham Primary Academy and Delamere Academy near Northwich; Oak View Academy at Winsford and Ellesmere Primary in Shropshire.