During the lockdown period academies and schools supported students and their families with home learning. Teachers provided a host of resources online, including live lessons and presentations, all accessible through the Academy’s web portal.
The Academy listened to the experiences of both parents and students and one thing that was made abundantly clear is that families’ digital access is widely different. For some families, every individual has a form of device, but for others, children vie for access to the one device in the household. This disparity in digital access means that students fall behind rapidly. Teachers also find supporting home learning incredibly challenging, having to identify each child’s level of digital access and tailoring to those specific circumstances.
To level the playing field, Hammersmith Academy launches its Digital Equality initiative which will see every student receive a Chromebook to use and keep in the home. This will ensure that all students have the same digital experience and a standardised level of access to digital learning resources and live classes should students see themselves home learning again. Students will no longer have to compete for access in the home. Furthermore, parents have the added benefit of the Academy’s safeguarding tools on the device which maintains student safety and upholds appropriate use.
The initiative is free to all students at the Academy, and the intention is to continue this provision for future generations of students. Parents are being asked to contribute in some way if possible, with a suggested £20 per term, or £60 a year for a total of three years. This goes to a ring-fenced budget to reinvest in devices for the next generation.
The Academy is funding this initiative directly with the support of its two livery company sponsors, The Mercers’ Company and The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists.
Gary Kynaston, Headteacher said, “Hammersmith Academy and our governors are determined to ensure that no student loses as a result of limited access, particularly during this pandemic which has shone a spotlight on the disparity. We have listened intently to our parents, students and teachers, and what is clear is that it is impossible to provide a quality level of education when the same class of students access work and resources to different degrees and different times in the day as a result of home circumstances. Our Digital Equality initiative will allow students to start on an equal footing and make the same level of progress irrespective of their background and what the pandemic throws our way.”
“The Mercers’ Company is committed to supporting young people to access remote learning during the Covid pandemic. Consequently Mercers’ have provided a significant financial donation to Hammersmith Academy for buying Chromebooks to be distributed to students without digital access. We believe that this will allow all HA students to participate in the HA curriculum and fully achieve their educational goals.” Peter Lane from the Mercers’ Company and Hammersmith Academy Deputy Chair of Governors
“One of the core aims of the WCIT Charity is to enhance opportunities for young people through more effective education, so especially during the Covid-19 crisis we are delighted to be able to support the HA Digital Equality Initiative to ensure that all Year 7 to 11 students have access to a computing device to help them improve their education both in school and remotely from home.” Nicholas Birtles, Governor and Past Master WCIT