Mon 22 February 2021
Deloitte North West has announced it is set to donate 300 laptops to its partner schools in Liverpool and Manchester, as part of its UK-wide drive to address the growing digital skills gap. Whalley Range High School and St Peter’s RC School in Manchester will receive donations, as well as Holly Lodge Girls' College in Liverpool. Nationally, Deloitte has pledged to provide 5,000 laptops to schools, charities and families across the country.
The news follows an £8,000 donation to all three of the schools in January to help with ongoing COVID-19 requirements as part of Deloitte’s 5 Million Futures programme. Funds have been used to expand digital learning, mental health care and food provision. This is in addition to ongoing tutoring and mentoring the firm provides to young people at its partner schools in the North West, with support provided by Deloitte volunteers on governing bodies and as virtual tutors.
Bridget Hitchings, Assistant Headteacher at Holly Lodge Girls’ College, said: “Without a doubt the biggest barrier to our students learning at the moment is a lack of access to digital education tools. These laptops will make a massive difference to our pupils, we are so grateful to deloitte for this generosity and thank them for the offer.”
Chris Rix, Tax Partner at Deloitte, said: “Purpose is what guides our decision-making at Deloitte and during the pandemic our values have never been more important as we remain focused on helping to overcome barriers to education and employment in the North West and beyond. Our research shows that among those who have an annual household income of less than £13,500, 18 per cent do not own or have access to a desktop or laptop computer.
“Lockdown has shifted the status of many devices from a nice-to-have to a must-have as education becomes virtual and the urgency of getting computers into homes of children who are currently unable to access online lessons ramps up.”
Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First, commented: “The digital divide remains an immediate and persistent challenge for pupils, particularly those from poorer backgrounds. All schools are doing their best in a challenging environment, yet with unequal access to the tech needed to study at home, the gap between children from wealthier homes and their poorer peers is greatly exacerbated. During this pandemic we all have a role to play to support those most in need, so it’s fantastic to see big businesses like Deloitte stepping forward to help bridge this divide. By coming together, we can help to give every child the best possible chance of a bright future beyond this pandemic.”
By ensuring all Deloitte laptops are reused or recycled, this pledge supports the firm’s global climate and sustainability strategy – to achieve net zero emissions by 2030. In addition, Deloitte is encouraging its people to take action by donating their personal defunct devices. For example, old mobile phones and tablets can be restored, six months connectivity added, and rehomed via Vodafone’s Great British Tech Appeal charity partner, Barnardo’s.