More than 1,000 laptops delivered to Hastings schools

More than 1,000 laptops have been distributed to the Ark schools in Hastings to support remote learning, particularly among disadvantaged students.

Thursday, 21st January 2021, 2:52 pm

Ark, the education charity which runs a network of academies, said schools in Hastings had received a total of 1,049 laptops.

These included 229 to Ark Castledown, 52 to Ark Little Ridge, 147 to Ark Blacklands and 621 to Ark Alexandra.

Liam Collins, the principal of Ark Alexandra, said: “Thanks to Ark’s support, we have provided over 370 devices to students to have their own device. Due to that support, our students can engage with our teachers’ online learning and minimise any gaps that might develop without this device.

Ark Alexandra Academy is among the schools to receive laptops SUS-210115-104314001

“Parents and students have been thankful for the Chromebook, especially those with siblings who are now not having to share a device.”

Kimberley, whose Year 10 son Jack attends Ark Alexandra, said: “Having a laptop for my son is brilliant as it means we don’t have to share mine. He can log on easily and can start learning as the software is already uploaded.

“I’m also impressed that his email and IT skills have improved and he’s becoming more tech-savvy. These are key skills that he might not learn now otherwise.”

Including the laptops delivered to the schools in Hastings, more than 12,000 digital devices have so far been distributed to Ark’s 38 schools.

This includes more than 5,500 devices provided by the Department for Education with the additional devices funded by Ark’s Coronavirus Appeal last year to ensure that all students in Year 3 and above have access to a school device to support their learning at home by the start of the next academic year.

Ark schools have been deploying devices to students in most need to ensure that digital exclusion avoids exacerbating wider attainment gaps. A parent survey undertaken across Ark schools during the first lockdown revealed that only 48 per cent of students had a suitable device for home learning.

Ark said it has developed ‘new teaching materials, platforms and training to ensure remote learning is supported by the network’s strong curriculum offer’. This includes the development of a new home learning platform called SpArk and its work in partnership with Oak National Academy to offer pre-recorded, curriculum-aligned lessons.

Ark also said its digital strategy seeks to bring longer-term benefits including enhanced independent learning outside school hours and to maximise quality teaching in the classroom.

By the end of last week, Ark had distributed 12,327 devices. By September, it plans to have distributed a total of up to 24,000.

Lauren Thorpe, Director of Strategy at Ark, said: “The deployment of 12,000 Chromebooks has enabled all our schools to provide suitable devices to all those students that need them in Year 3 and above. As a result, we have seen high levels of engagement with remote learning during this lockdown.

“It was clear during the first lockdown last year that digital access was a significant impediment to the delivery of high-quality remote learning, and we have worked hard to ensure that these gaps are addressed.

“The experience of the pandemic has accelerated and shaped our long-term thinking on digital, and we are determined to ensure that this brings long-term benefits to ensure all our students have the right tools to support their learning and deliver their attainment goals, regardless of their background.”