The operation began before dawn – another precious consignment of Mail Force laptops that will transform the lives of yet more schoolchildren.
The computers were ready just before 6am yesterday and were on their way up the motorway from the depot in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, within the hour.
They were destined for a school in Manchester and by late morning were in the hands of their new owners – a group of delighted youngsters from Moston Fields Primary.
The delivery, courtesy of Mail Force and Mail readers, prompted one grateful mother to declare: ‘God bless them.’
Nearly half of the 450 children at Moston Fields are on free school meals and the national lockdown threatens to widen the ‘digital divide’ between those pupils able to follow online classes and those falling further and further behind.
Delivered: Mail Force laptops in the hands of Moston Fields pupils and (back right) head Sarah Murray
The Government is helping, and yesterday 48 laptops from the Department for Education were dropped off at the school.
And, to the delight of teachers, a bonus consignment of Mail Force laptops – Microsoft Surface 2 Go devices with detachable screens – were added to the delivery.
Amy Cooke, who teaches nine to ten-year-olds, said: ‘These laptops are going to change the children’s lives over the next couple of months.’
The electrifying Mail Force campaign to get lockdown pupils online has raised more than £5million in its first week and been hailed by teachers and parents.
The charity – initially set up to get PPE to nurses and doctors last year – is now helping to tackle the peril of lost education.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates missed lessons will cost each child £40,000 in earnings on average over their lifetime.
5.45AM, BOXED AND READY TO GO: Another consignment of Mail Force laptops
6.30AM, EARLY START: It is still dark when the laptops leave the depot to meet their new young owners
Yesterday Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was more worried about the pandemic’s impact on children’s education than the economy.
He said: ‘The economy, I think, can bounce back very, very strongly – the UK has immense natural resilience.
‘The thing that really concerns me at the moment is education and the deficit in our children’s education that we have run up as a result of these lockdowns.’
The Daily Mail’s Computers for Kids campaign was launched to help the Government get laptops to lockdown schoolchildren as fast as possible.
At Moston Fields Primary, head Sarah Murray said: ‘It will make a huge difference. There are a lot of families who do not have, or who have only one device.
We also have families whose only access to remote learning is by mobile phone, which can be problematic.’
11.19AM, TIMELY: The precious consignment is unloaded at Moston Fields Primary…
… along with a delivery from the Department for Education
Miss Cooke, who is in charge of computer learning at Moston Fields, said: ‘We sent an email out just a couple of weeks ago, asking teachers to speak with children and find out who needed a device. There were hundreds of replies.’
The latest online donations to Mail Force include £100 in Six Nations sweepstake winnings from Gareth James and a pensioner’s superfluous winter fuel allowance.
It’ll make all the difference
One of the first to get a device was the Brady household where screen time was being rationed because just one tablet is shared by Jess, eight, Paul, seven, and Paige, three.
Their mother Raynor Brady, 36, is leaving her own online needs until last.
12.05AM: One of the first to get a device was the Brady household where screen time was being rationed because just one tablet is shared by Jess, eight, Paul, seven, and Paige, three
She said: ‘I have forfeited my right to my tablet because their education is so important. Having an extra computer will make all the difference.
‘I’m trying to keep to a schedule but it’s hard for myself and a lot of parents. I’d like to say a big thank you to all the people who donated to Mail Force.’
Had to rely on a mobile
Half an hour after the Brady household received their device, Deborah Abolarinwa, 11, received her laptop.
She had been relying on a mobile phone to access her online lessons.
12.33PM: Half an hour after the Brady household received their device, Deborah Abolarinwa, 11, received her laptop
There is only one laptop in the house she shares with brother Rafael, 13, and mother Mercy Mensah, 45 – who is studying a business management course.
In a message to Mail readers who have sent in donations, Mrs Mensah declared: ‘I would say a big thank you – God bless them.’
I want to say thank you!
Struggling with just a small touch screen on a smart phone is not the best way to connect with her online classes, admits Mercy Ezomo-Oghagbon – especially when her mother needs to borrow it.
1.36PM: Struggling with just a small touch screen on a smart phone is not the best way to connect with her online classes, admits Mercy Ezomo-Oghagbon
Mercy, 11, a Year 6 pupil at Moston Fields, said: ‘I can’t study so much at the moment. Now I am being given a laptop, it will make a difference.’
Mercy’s mother, Eghosa, 42, said: ‘To everyone who has given their support to the campaign, thank you.’
Now we won’t have to share
Last (but not least) to get his device was Luca, ten. He and brother Rocco, seven, have been having to share an iPad. Oldest sibling Charlie has his own PC.
2.03PM: Last (but not least) to get his device was Luca, ten. He and brother Rocco, seven, have been having to share an iPad. Oldest sibling Charlie has his own PC.
Their mother, Joanna Evans, 36, said: ‘It’s been hard especially because recently Luca has started having an extra video class each day.
‘Having the laptop will be great – it’ll be a lot easier because it will free up the iPad for Rocco and it means both boys can take part in all their lessons.’
HOW TO DONATE TO COMPUTERS FOR KIDS
TO YOU, THE READER: How to send us donations
The Daily Mail has launched a brand new campaign, Computers For Kids, to raise money for Mail Force – a charity which aims to provide much needed school equipment and resources for pupils across the UK learning from home.
With schools closed, we are left with the dilemma of hundreds of thousands of pupils in the UK having no access to a computer in their home.
As part of this campaign, companies are donating their old laptops which, for around £15, can be wiped, professionally refurbished and made safe and fit for home schooling. They can then be delivered to a child or young person who needs one.
In addition, the campaign is looking to support children’s needs in other ways such as funding brand new laptops and tablets, and assisting with data access and connectivity for online learning. Any surplus funds will be used to support of the work of UK schools via other means.
TO MAKE A DONATION ONLINE
Visit mailforcecharity.co.uk/donate and follow the steps to complete your donation.
Please don’t send us your old device.
TO MAKE A DONATION VIA YOUR PHONE
To donate £10 – text KIDS10 to 70115
To donate £20 – text KIDS20 to 70115
TO COMPANIES: Could you give your old laptops?
Upgrading office computers is something all companies do from time to time – and there has never been a better time to donate old laptops. If you are a company with 50 laptops or more that you could give, please visit www.computacenter.com/daily-mail to check they are suitable and register your donation. We will arrange for collection by our specialist partners Computacenter. Please note: we cannot accept donated laptops from individuals.
COMPANIES SHOULD GO TO: computacenter.com/daily-mail
TO SCHOOLS: Where to apply for the computers
Schools must apply to the Department for Education, which is managing the demand and prioritising the schools most in need. The Mail Force initiative means more laptops will become available more quickly.
SCHOOLS CAN APPLY HERE: https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk