Education news

Businesses urged to help schools avoid post-lockdown `digital deficit'

Photographed in London on the 17th November 2018 Showing the new Apple iPad Pro 12.9 Inch tablet computer recently launched by Apple at their November event in New York. The image shows the back of the iPad while held by a woman with a stripy t-shirt on..

A leading grammar school is urging businesses to help it avoid a `digital deficit' when pupils return to the classroom.

The blanket closure is now in its sixth week - and GCSE, AS-level, A-level and vocational exams have all been cancelled.

Some European countries including Denmark and Germany have begun phased reopening of schools.

Their approach to ending the educational lockdown is being closely observed as other countries debate similar measures.

In the north, no date has been set for schools to reopen to pupils other than key workers' children and those considered vulnerable.

Normal teaching will only resume "when it is safe to do so", the Department of Education has said.

It is unlikely that every pupil will be allowed back at the same time and there have been calls to allow disadvantaged children to return first.

The education committee at Stormont yesterday heard concerns that some children had already fallen behind in their studies due to a lack of technology.

Poor wi-fi provision has previously been cited as a major problem in many schools, with a high proportion considering themselves under-resourced.

St Joseph's Grammar School in Donaghmore, Co Tyrone is among those whose staff have been teaching remotely while also producing personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

Principal Geraldine Donnelly said the school was now turning its attention to what it might look like next year for pupils with the impact of social distancing.

"We are even having to consider if we will need to have our pupils physically present in school on a rotational basis and if so, we expect that there will continue to be a lot of digital learning taking place well into the next school year," she said.

"However, we are concerned about the digital deficit experienced by some of our pupils who have only limited access to laptops or other devices and that is why we are launching our Digital Devices Appeal this week.

"We are asking businesses and other organisations to donate to the school those older models of devices that may be in storage but are still perfectly usable. This will help us ensure each child can access their Google Classrooms from home."

The school can be contacted on social media and by telephoning 028 8776 1227.

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Education news