Tackling digital inequality
Holy Family Catholic School serves a diverse community in the Langley area. Lockdown has highlighted the wealth divide and how this can affect the educational performance of children. It is widely accepted that disadvantaged people generally experience less academic success than the more affluent, and, that this problem is widespread throughout the UK.
In July 2019 our school was rated outstanding by Ofsted. We believe that the quality of face-to-face teaching played a large part in achieving this judgement. The provision of high quality education for all children, in an environment where they are treated equitably, is our driving force. As a school we are enormously proud that we can deliver an outstanding education to our pupils and it is the motivating factor in setting up this project.
We believe that early intervention is the key to closing the gap in education. If we can target disadvantaged pupils with support at the earliest opportunity, we can maximise their chances of success. During lockdown period one of COVID 19 (March to July 2020) our school moved to online learning for pupils of non-keyworker children.
We became aware of several pupils who could not access the content because they did not have the necessary technology to do so, or because their parents were unable to support them due to lack of IT knowledge. We provided a number of these children with laptops and this helped some to complete the work set. When we returned to school, in line with the trend nationally, we began to set more homework online. It became apparent that the barriers of limited IT skills and access to hardware remained and that these were going to have an increasing impact on children's ability to access and benefit from programmes such as teams, Reading Eggs and MyMaths.
Our aim in setting up the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) support club, would be to ensure the children and their parents are educated in how to access and submit schoolwork online and supported through the loan of resources.
This is why we applied to the Innovation Fund - to support us with setting up this club, targeting children whose parents do not currently have the required IT skills and do not have access to technology in their homes; Those who are therefore missing out on essential skills and experience.
The club will be available to children in our school who have been identified as ‘at risk’ in terms of lack of access to IT and lack of home support to enable them to use the technology we plan to provide. At present we have identified 21 families who have limited or no access to technology in their home. This is not, by any means, the full picture of the number of families that we know are in need.
We have ambitions to enable parents from the first phase to become future champions of the project and use the knowledge they have gained to educate others. Once the initial intensive education and support phase has been completed; the project can be maintained using the parental experts along with ongoing support from school leaders. This will ensure the project is truly community based with families at core of its operation.