Three cheers for Mail Force! Children will have 18million hours of free web access


Schoolchildren will have 18million free hours of online learning thanks to the latest Mail Force giveaway.

The charity today announces a sensational three-pronged action plan to further boost the Computers for Kids initiative.

Lockdown pupils at the UK’s neediest schools will be handed Vodafone mobile phone SIM cards that give them free access to the internet.

Pictured: Students L-R: Cassie Rutter, Kenecki Ogoke, 13, Megan Woods, 15, Mason Humphrey, 15 Lily-Anne Neale, 11, and Teddie Russell, 12 The Brittons Academy has joined the Daily Mail’s campaign Mail Force for laptops to get children at home more laptops to use during lockdown

From Monday, schools will also be able to apply for more brand new laptops bought with donations to Mail Force.

And a further 10,000 refurbished laptops donated by generous companies will also be available – with thousands more to follow.

The triple good news comes after Mail Force raised more than £10.7million in cash and computers to help pupils stuck at home to follow their online classes. 

Delivery of SIM cards is a ‘game-changer’ for pupils 

For 50 children at The Brittons Academy, a delivery of Vodafone data SIM cards has been a ‘game changer’.

Assistant headteacher Nat Wickenden said a significant number of students struggle to get online for remote learning due to poor internet connections.

‘The problems go a lot deeper than a lack of devices,’ she said. ‘There’s a real lack of wifi and broadband.

‘Even if they do have access it is not always adequate. They’re also battling with a weak wifi connection often made worse when many children in one household are logging on.’ She added: ‘Children will join a class and you can easily lose three or four of them during that lesson because their wifi is poor. Then you have to interrupt the lesson to readmit them again and again.’

Mrs Wickenden said the school in Rainham, east London, received 50 sim cards from Vodafone – as well as 85 Department for Education laptops – which have been a ‘game changer’. She said: ‘It has made a huge difference to those children – we have seen a greater level of engagement. They now a have seamless connection and are able to follow the classes.’

Some 45 per cent of the 750 students at the secondary school qualify for pupil premium grants for the disadvantaged, but ‘significantly more’ have struggled to get online.

Mrs Wickenden said home learning had exposed the divide between ‘the haves and the have-nots’ and that many children were still going without.

The Brittons Academy, a Teach First partner school, is aiming to get one laptop into every household.

Mrs Wickenden said of the Computers for Kids campaign: ‘The Daily Mail shouldn’t have to be raising the issue of equality in education in 2021, but that’s where we are, so we simply need people to take action.’ 

Now schoolchildren can get a full package of help – from a laptop computer or tablet to the free data they need to connect to the internet. 

A YouGov survey last week found one in four UK parents believe their children are struggling to complete lessons and schoolwork because of a poor quality internet connection.

Some have no online access at all, while many parents in deprived areas use a mobile phone on a ‘pay as you go’ tariff which can clock up big bills for watching online lessons.

So Mail Force has teamed up with Vodafone to provide 150,000 free SIM cards providing an estimated whopping 18million hours of online learning in total.

The cards can be inserted into a mobile phone that then serves as a ‘wifi hotspot’ which other devices such as laptops and tablets can connect to.

Each SIM card’s 30Gb of free data – equivalent to approximately 120 hours of live video lessons – will last about nine weeks based on the average usage of a pupil following online lessons set by schools. 

Each SIM will come automatically fitted with parental controls.

Headteachers will be able to apply for a batch of SIM cards from Monday. 

Priority will be given to schools with pupils most likely to be on the wrong side of the so-called ‘digital divide’ – the gulf between those children who can easily get online and those falling ever farther behind in their education. 

Last night, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: ‘Our thanks go out to the Mail and great British businesses such as Vodafone who have really stepped up to the challenge.

‘This is so incredibly important because hardware is vital for access to this reservoir of knowledge – the teaching which schools are offering. A key part has been data and access to it. We are really appreciative of Vodafone, which has stepped up to the mark and worked with us and the Daily Mail.’

The new Mail Force and Vodafone partnership means 500,000 pupils will now be given the help they need to get online.

Vodafone has already handed out 350,000 SIM cards free in a spectacular corporate gesture last year. Its Schools Connected programme reached over 9,000 schools and further education colleges. 

Now Mail Force is using some of the money donated by readers and philanthropists to extend the Schools Connected programme even further.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson MP joins the packing lines at the 'Computacenter' HQ in Hatfield, where millions of laptops, including thousands provided by Daily Mail reader donations to the Mail Force 'Computers for Kids' appeal are dispatched to children (pictured)

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson MP joins the packing lines at the ‘Computacenter’ HQ in Hatfield, where millions of laptops, including thousands provided by Daily Mail reader donations to the Mail Force ‘Computers for Kids’ appeal are dispatched to children (pictured)

How to apply for computers 

Schools in England can apply through the Department for Education. They should visit https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk/start

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, we welcome applications from education authorities, multi-academy trusts or charities focused on children and young people. 

They should visit www.mailforcecharity.co.uk/register to apply. Schools should encourage their local education authority or trust to submit their details. 

The communications giant is not taking any profit from the arrangement. SIM cards can be inserted into mobile phones or wifi-enabled devices, and will work anywhere there is a Vodafone mobile signal.

They are automatically configured to access schoolwork but not to allow phonecalls or text messages – just like the rule in classrooms.

Ahmed Essam, chief executive at Vodafone UK, said: ‘By working together we will be able to extend the programme to reach half a million young people right across the UK. I encourage schools and further education colleges to apply – together, we can ensure no child is left behind.’

In another major step, Mail Force’s growing cache of laptop computers will be available for schools in England to request from Monday afternoon.

The charity has sanctioned buying more than 10,000 brand new machines, including Samsung Chromebooks, Acer laptops and Samsung Galaxy tablets.

On top of these, another 10,000 devices will start to go into the mix that has been donated by companies and then securely wiped and refurbished for classroom use.

With schools closed, the country is left with the dilemma of hundreds of thousands of pupils in the UK having no access to a computer in their home

With schools closed, the country is left with the dilemma of hundreds of thousands of pupils in the UK having no access to a computer in their home

HOW TO DONATE TO COMPUTERS FOR KIDS 

CLICK HERE TO DONATE 

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 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

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk