One of South London's top schools has launched a campaign to provide 460 of its most disadvantaged pupils with laptops.
Almost half of all pupils at La Retraite Roman Catholic Girls School in Clapham come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and a large majority are made up of Black African, Black Caribbean or White European backgrounds.
Over the last two years, the number of pupils eligible for the pupil premium, a payment by the government to help the most disadvantaged children in society has also doubled to around two in every five pupils.
Despite this, La Retraite has been rated Outstanding by Oftsted and continues to have some of the best results in the borough.
Teachers at the school have always known that many of their pupils have difficulties accessing computers and the internet at home, with an between 500 and 600 of its 1,030 pupils finding it difficult to pay for the child's own device and regular internet connection.
This includes children whose parents find it difficult to cope with the costs but are classified as "having no recourse to public funding", meaning they are unable to get help from the government to make ends meet.
Nicola Weekly, Business Engagement officer at the school told MyLondon that they plan to buy laptops at £250 each for 450 of their most disadvantaged pupils to ensure they can achieve their full potential.
"We have always been aware of this and have regularly supported families with extra funds to buy educational resources, food and clothing," she said.
"We have just paid for one Sixth form student’s application for British Nationality.
"When students are in school, we are able to mitigate these challenges much easier and the students have easy access to fantastic learning opportunities and resources.
"The current pandemic has made this much harder to do and highlighted the impact that a lack of digital facilities can have on these families and how hard it is to support them if they cannot get into school.
"I am sure there are other schools with similar issues."
Throughout the lockdown the issue was highlighted with students having to share computers with siblings and other family members once lessons moved online.
Initially targeting 460 pupils to help with the donation of Google Chromebooks, the school has been able to contribute £25,000 and have launched an online fundraising page to raise the remaining £90,000.
Since launching the appeal, 76 donations have been made totalling around £4,000 with donations ranging from £5 to £500 in value.
"The staff at La Retraite are looking at ways to promote access for all and to raise money to be able to purchase laptops for all our disadvantaged students," said Nicola.
"We are aiming to provide each disadvantaged student with a Google Chrome device, which will give them basic access to online work and resources."
If you would like to donate or learn more about La Retraite's fundraising, you can visit their GoFundMe page here - https://uk.gofundme.com/f/access-for-al ... e-students
Photo credit: La Retraite