11th August 2020

Student laptops for old tech

Vulnerable young people in Somerset are benefiting from a Somerset County Council technology recycling scheme.

The County Council’s ICT department is buying laptops for vulnerable young people in Somerset using money raised from selling old staff devices.

So far 71 laptops have been bought and welcomed by recipients – especially as some had been having to rely on mobile phones to access the online resources they need.

Supporting the access to education for Children Looked After (CLA) in the 16+ age group is a real priority for the County Council and is part of its vision to improve the lives of Somerset’s young people and open new doors for them.  

Councillor Faye Purbrick, Cabinet member for Education and Transformation, said:  “I was really impressed when one of the IT officers came to me with this scheme, it is a really great way to support our young people with technology. It has been really encouraging to hear about the difference it has made to the education journey for some of our vulnerable young people in Somerset.  We have already had great feedback from those who have benefited.” 

The County Council scheme started before the current education challenges bought about by COVID and complements the government scheme to provide laptops for children and young people who have been disadvantaged as a result of COVID-19. 

Priority was given to deliver devices to the most vulnerable students, helping young people to continue to have access to their education.  Care leavers have also been provided with laptops to make sure they can complete their work if they are home schooling, and to be able to apply for jobs or apprenticeships, and be more active and social, digitally.

Emma Brown, Leaving Care Team Leader for Yeovil said:  “Jamie took delivery of his laptop yesterday and was thrilled. He intends to start on an on-line course in English and maths to help him secure a job.  He never completed his education, and this is the first time in a very long time he’s been motivated to do this.  He also wants to use it to start on-line singing lessons – a passion that he’s not been confident to develop since he left his residential placement at 16, he’s now 22!  So, thank you!” 

Other positive examples include: 

Student P has missed a lot of time this year through ill-health.  Her teachers have been sending her work to catch up via email and the college’s Virtual Learning Platform during lockdown, but the ageing laptop she was using kept crashing and she felt she was slipping ever further behind.  She is delighted to have a working device and will be back at college in the autumn to continue her studies. 

Student B is sharing her sister’s laptop and hasn’t been able to get enough screen time to complete all the tasks and assignments sent to her on Google docs and other platforms. The laptop is a wonderful surprise and will ease the pressure at home.