Clevedon School donates hundreds of computers to families in need

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A secondary school in North Somerset is donating up to 400 of its computers to pupils it fears could fall behind in their education.

Only about 60 of Clevedon School's 1,300 pupils are on site with the rest learning from home.

But when it invited families to claim one of 36 laptops provided by the government, demand was four times greater than supply. So the school has decided to lease new stock, allowing it to give away its current supply.

Head of Pupil Premium Chloe Wilde said: "Without that device access, pupils are potentially missing out on huge chunks of learning that their peers do have access to, so it's just about levelling that playing field."

Dawn Ballantyne, mother to boys Deacon, 13, Cyruss, 12, and Cozmee, 10, is one of the first recipients of the donated desktops.

Dawn Ballantyne now has a laptop, but it is shared between her three boys.

She said: "We've got one computer between the three boys so at least two of them now can sit down and do schoolwork. This extra computer is amazing and will make all the difference."

It's just one of several initiatives Clevedon School Headteacher Jim Smith and his staff have implemented during the lockdown. Early each morning, he's at Bristol fruit market buying fruit and veg which he helps display in the school reception for anyone to collect for free.

He said: "I think covid's tested all families," he explains. "It's not about those families who might be labelled one thing or another it's about recognising that all our students and all our families need our support."

Helping bridge the gaps in their community is Clevedon Aid, a charity with around 200 volunteers who not only repurpose the school's computers before delivering them, but provide hot meals and wellbeing support.

Group lead Lizzie Harvey said: "We're looking at 7,000 individual tasks of help across the town and when you consider Clevedon is a place of only 22,000 that really shows that people do need help. There are lots of things covid exacerbated but didn't cause."

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