Coronavirus in Scotland: Disadvantaged pupils to get free computers to help learning at home

The Times and Sunday Times

Published by The Times

Written by Arthi Nachiappan

Hundreds of disadvantaged pupils across Scotland will be provided with computers and internet access to help them access mentoring and to complete school work at home.

An education charity will provide the help to up to 300 pupils living in households without internet connectivity after receiving funding from the Scottish government and JP Morgan, the investment bank.

MCR Pathways has identified an initial 100 young people in the care system who are in need of computers and internet access and will begin to send out the equipment in the next two weeks, with more to follow.

“We support 2,300 children either in the care system or on the edges of it, so we will provide the equipment and internet access to young people from that initial group to begin with,” said Iain MacRitchie, the chief executive of MCR Pathways.

“For our most disadvantaged young people, any kind of schooling at home is a big challenge. These young people don’t have the same family resource, infrastructure or backup to be able to do it, so we try to compensate for that.”
Iain MacRitchie, MCR Founder

Founded in 2007, MCR Pathways, which is based in Glasgow, assigns volunteers to pupils in care in ten local authorities across Scotland.

A survey of 215 parents conducted in April by Connect, the Scottish parents’ body, found that families did not have sufficient equipment, knowledge or the confidence they felt they needed to support online learning while at home.

number of councils banned state education via live video conferencing software over concerns some children would be left behind. “Streaming live lessons is not recommended at this time due to safeguarding and possible equity issues,” a representative for East Dunbartonshire council said at the time.

Aileen Campbell, the Scottish cabinet secretary for communities, said: “We need to continue to support all of our children’s health and wellbeing, but even more so disadvantaged children, who often rely on school life for a safe, nurturing and supportive environment.

“This additional funding will enable more children and young people and their families to maintain the vital mentoring relationships that have been developed through the programme.”

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