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South Tyneside families told they can keep 4,000 laptops handed out to children in lockdown - but they need to take this important step

Thousands of South Tyneside children and young people who were given a digital device to help with home schooling will now be allowed to keep them on a long term basis, education chiefs have said.

Monday, 14th March 2022, 4:18 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th March 2022, 8:20 am

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Thousands of laptops were handed out to families in South Tyneside during lockdown.
Thousands of laptops were handed out to families in South Tyneside during lockdown.

Officers at South Tyneside Council say the authority is one of the few in the country which has committed to supporting the scheme long term in recognition of the huge benefits the devices have made to children’s learning.

The council launched a strategy at the start of the pandemic to help disadvantaged families while the Department of Education also gave a number of laptops, tablets and routers to help with home learning.

Almost 4,000 devices have been given out, and the council says every family who requested IT support has been given a device.

Working closely with schools, the council has been able to extend the scheme to other deserving groups such as care leavers and young carers.

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Now these young people have been told they can keep the devices as a long-term loan from the council, which officers say is part of efforts to achieve a key priority in supporting families and young people in need.

Councillor Adam Ellison, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “We know these devices have had a very positive impact on young people’s learning so we felt it was only right to allow them to keep them long term.

“We are committed to giving all our children the best start in life and making sure they have access to the right equipment for their education is key to that.”

Two boys who care for their mother, Chantel Myers, who is paralysed from the waist down and has seizures, are among those to receive laptops.

Chantel said the laptops had made a big difference to the boys’ education.

“The boys have to do too much for me. I have carers who come in three time a day but the boys still do so much for me and they worry about me all the time,” she said.

“The laptops from the Council have been great as they didn’t have one previously. My oldest son, Jason, in particular, has his GCSEs coming up so being able to have the laptop on a long term basis is fantastic. He has been able to revise online every morning before his mock exams and he seems pleased with how they have gone.”

Councillor Anne Hetherington, Lead Member for Independence and Wellbeing, said: “We know that our young carers have many additional responsibilities but that shouldn’t prevent them from achieving their goals in life. That is why we extended the scheme to include deserving young people like these to make sure they have the equipment they need to help them succeed.”

The council said the devices have all had the appropriate filters and anti-virus programmes installed, but the settings need to be updated – without this, the devices will cease to operate as before.

Anyone who needs the settings updated is asked to call (0191) 424 6300, email [email protected] or visit the website at beststartict.life

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