Many children in the UK don’t have access to the devices they need for learning, so Amazon is working with Teach First to donate 10,000 Fire Tablets to schools most in need. Amazon Prime Video has also provided additional funding to Teach First to support schools and children to achieve their potential.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, our need to stay connected has increased, particularly for those learning or working from home. However, many children do not have access to a laptop or tablet to access online learning and educational resources, and this disproportionately impacts young learners in underserved communities.
New research from Teach First found that more than one third of parents in England have at least one child who doesn’t have exclusive use of a device. Another poll of teachers revealed that 88% had students they believed were falling behind due to a lack of a functioning tablet or laptop device, or the lack of access to online learning.
At Amazon, we are committed to creating opportunities for young people to succeed in the digital age – regardless of their background or start in life.
Amazon’s Learning Store is already helping to improve access to online learning – and you can find out more about home schooling resources for parents, carers and children during lockdown.
John Boumphrey, UK Country Manager for Amazon, said: “It is critical children across the UK have access to devices so they can continue to learn remotely, but also to support STEM skills and education for the future. We’re proud to work with Teach First in supporting the immediate needs of children in underserved communities while also helping to inspire and unlock the potential of the next generation of builders, inventors and innovators.”
Our work with Teach First includes support through Amazon Future Engineer to recruit and train 50 secondary school computer science teachers and over 200 Teach First ‘Careers Leaders’. Tour leaders at Amazon’s Fulfilment Centres have taken part in the charity’s ‘STEMinism’ campaign to address gender bias in STEM.
Impact of a device donation
We made a donation of 1,000 Fire Tablets to Teach First in April 2020 to support the challenge schools across the country were facing. Schools have been sharing their response to the challenges of remote learning and the potential impact of these donations.
Kathryn Hobbs, Headteacher of David Nieper Academy, a Teach First partner school in Derbyshire, explains: “When it comes to schoolwork, a smartphone just isn’t sufficient – but the hard truth is that some families simply can’t afford IT equipment. To support our pupils through this pandemic, we need more access to devices… so that nothing holds our pupils back from their fundamental right to learn.”
Similarly, Katie Roberts, Headteacher at Da Vinci Academy, also in Derby, adds: “My students who were already at a disadvantage are potentially even more so. And alongside not having access to learning it’s often the same students suffering from mental health challenges, loneliness and worries about academic progress.”
“These devices not only open access to learning through the pandemic, but will support these children with their learning at home in the future too. ”
Upon receiving the donated devices, schools shared messages of thanks – one multi-academy trust in North East England said: “The devices were incredibly well-received… they had a big impact.”
One head teacher said: “Our families have been really touched by the gesture and very grateful. For some of our families, the extra provision of tablets has meant that the younger children have now been able to access online learning as their older siblings had been prioritised.”
A parent of a primary school pupil said: “We’re so grateful because we only have one laptop. We have to let the three older children complete their homework first, so the little ones have not had anything to work on until now.”
In addition, a teacher from Luton Primary School in Chatham, Kent, underlined the long-term impact: “These devices not only open access to learning through the pandemic, but will support these children with their learning at home in the future too.”
The widening of the digital divide for under-represented groups in our society has potential longer-term implications for social mobility.
Amazon’s donation is helping to address this issue by widening access to online learning and educational resources. When education is key to a young person’s future, and the only gateway to education is online (as has been the case at some times during the pandemic), ensuring access to a digital device can be key to unlocking their future potential.
The donations have been prioritised for schools most in need, with schools’ engagement co-ordinated by Teach First. The devices can be easily used to run popular apps for remote and online learning.
“To support our pupils through this pandemic, we need more access to devices… so that nothing holds our pupils back from their fundamental right to learn.”
Beyond the pandemic, this donation of devices will have a significant long-term impact in narrowing the digital divide for Teach First’s partner schools, as they can be used for homework, projects, self-directed learning and much more.