Firms have duty to wider community and should support homeschool effort, says BGL

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Darren Smith, deputy headteacher at William Law C of E primary school, has said the grant will be used to ensure all families have digital access and to provide reading books

Having donated £285,000 to help struggling schools purchase technology to support home learning via its BGL4Schools campaign, the Peterborough-based company has urged other businesses to do similar outreach.

Mark Bailie, chief executive officer of Peterborough-based BGL Group, said firms not only have a duty to their colleagues and their families, but to the wider community to ensure young people are able to realise their potential.

He said: "Schools are in an impossible situation trying to home school and teach vulnerable children and those of key workers. Meanwhile they have increasing pressure on their budgets.

"We are grateful for everything teachers are doing right now and they need as much support as possible. With the likelihood that an element of homeschooling - as much as home working - will become a standard part of life for the foreseeable, the digital capability of our children is something we all should support.

"I would urge businesses, who are already having to adapt to the challenges of remote working and homeschooling, to support schools with this challenge in the coming months and years and consider how they allocate funds to have the maximum impact."

In total, 191 schools applied for funding and each received a £1,500 grant. Of that number, 71 schools were in Cambridgeshire.

Darren Smith, deputy headteacher at William Law C of E Primary School in Werrington, Peterborough, said: "We have families who haven’t got a laptop or Wi-Fi and we’re also getting the occasional phone calls where the laptop is broken, or they aren’t able to access the resources, or there are maybe three in a household all sharing one device.

"We will also use the money for reading books, as last lockdown we had some children go back two years in reading and we’re really keen that doesn’t happen again. Reading is fundamental to the rest of the curriculum, so it’s important we keep that up at home."

Karen Bielawski, a finance manager at Leighton Primary School in Orton Malborne, Peterborough, said: "We have had quite a lot of children who don’t have a device and have been learning on a mobile phone which isn’t great as it’s a real struggle for them to have live lessons, or work on a worksheet from a phone. Some are having to share a device with siblings, so they’re not able to fit all their learning into the day that way. It’s obviously impacting on their education. It’s very difficult for these families."

BGL has donated more than £1 million to charities, schools and other good causes since April.

As well as giving grants to schools, the company also encouraged its colleagues to volunteer or fundraise for their child’s school by offering double match funding. The amount raised by BGL colleagues exceeded £35,000, with BGL contributing an additional £45,000 in match funding.

Colleagues have also been reading online with a child for half an hour each week via Innovations for Learning’s TutorMate programme.