Derby County Community Trust

Digital Divide

We are aiming to reduce the 'digital divide' in Derby by refurbishing, purchasing and distributing IT equipment to families in need.
by 1 supporter
RCN 1123520


The Coronavirus pandemic has intensified the UK's digital divide. Internet access has become increasingly important for accessing public services, health information, shopping, and staying connected to family and friends. In some cases, services, activities and information have moved exclusively online, or offline alternatives may be limited or restricted. For children, having internet and device access, and the skills to utilise them is now essential for remote learning.

The rapid shift to online services, information and education while essential to maintaining business as usual during lockdown has highlighted the need to ensure greater digital inclusion.

The Good Things Foundation recently estimated that 11.3 million people in the UK do not have the basic digital skills they need to thrive in todays world, which has implications for employment, financial security and long-term health.

The digital divide has been stark in the education sector. As schools and colleges have had to move to deliver lessons online, it has exposed the number of children and young people that do not have access to an appropriate device at home and/or a reliable internet connection.

A recent report by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) highlights significant differences in pupils level of engagement with remote learning. The findings raise particular concern about the impact of school closures on children from the most deprived areas. Pupil engagement is lower in schools with the highest levels of deprivation. This supports a growing evidence base highlighting the risk of the attainment gap widening as a result of this pandemic.

Teachers report that the following proportions of pupils are less engaged in remote learning than their classmates: Pupils with limited access to IT and/or study space (81%), Vulnerable pupils (62%), Pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (58%), Pupils eligible for Pupil Premium funding (52%) and Young carers (48%).

We know that limited pupil access to IT at home is a significant challenge in Derby, particularly for schools serving the most deprived communities with schools reporting 40-50% of families without access. Whether that is poor broadband access; little or no IT equipment in the home or having to share equipment with other family members.

Laptops, tablets, dongles and routers are being provided for certain groups, however, the rollout is slow and this is not yet enough to meet demand/need in the city and many pupils still do not have access to the internet.

Feedback from schools also suggests that there are many students and their families remain unable to access remote learning even when they are provided with the equipment as they lack the basic digital skills to use them effectively. It is those students and families that are hardest to reach that need the most support. Without this support the disadvantage gap will widen.

This project will aim to address digital poverty through community hubs that enable children and their families to access the internet, computers and develop digital skills.

As a number of the target schools are serving the same wards and communities and, in some cases, the same families, we propose that activity should be at ward/community level rather than by school, with schools in those wards working together through community hubs. Hubs will be both community and school/college based, aligning with the Inclusion project, and the core focus will be on upskilling families to be digitally literate to enable them to access education.

The key areas of focus for this work will be:

The delivery of basic digital skills training for disadvantaged children and young people, and their families. This can also be extended to school staff where required.

Work with local employers/schools/volunteers to recruit and train mentors and digital ambassadors.

Work with the local authority, schools, community groups (such as faith groups), and local businesses to identify and signpost to further support and equipment/internet access.

About the charity

"Using the power of Derby County Football Club to improve lives and communities through sport, physical activity, health and education".

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