We’re leading the way with support for disadvantaged children

Kirklees has emerged as one of the top councils in the country for the way it helps disadvantaged children to access learning.

We have secured almost 4,000 pieces of vital IT equipment so that children and young people all over the district can learn at home and fulfil their potential.

The need to support education – and to provide opportunities for all – has been especially stark when schools have closed to most pupils during Covid-19 lockdowns.

So far, 3,857 laptops and tablets have been secured through a government scheme. The council has already distributed many of them to eligible children, including children with a social worker, young carers, children whose families receive certain benefits, care leavers and other disadvantaged school pupils.

It means children who didn’t have the right equipment can now take part in online learning and keep up with their work, especially if they aren’t in school due to lockdown.

Only three councils nationally have secured more devices, with Kirklees leading the way for the whole of Yorkshire and Humber.

Cllr Carole Pattison, Cabinet member for Learning, Aspiration and Communities, said:

“In Kirklees we are fully committed to tackling inequality and helping our children and young people to have the best start in life.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had its most severe impact on vulnerable families and we are providing a huge range of support across our communities.

We are making maximum use of the scheme to obtain and distribute IT equipment so that children and young people are helped to achieve good outcomes.

The pandemic – in particular when the majority of pupils rely on home learning because they can’t go to school – has shown that digital inequality is a real issue, not just in Kirklees but around the country.

In addition to this scheme, we’ve found other creative ways to support our most vulnerable children and young people.

For example, pupils who are in care have been given the equipment they need, while we’ve also ensured every foster family in Kirklees can access high-quality IT.”

Cllr Viv Kendrick, Cabinet member for Children, said:

“It’s critical that disadvantaged children can enjoy the same opportunities as their peers and aren’t forced to miss out because of their family circumstances.

Working closely with our schools and other organisations, we have identified which children are in greatest need. Then, by securing and delivering equipment, we have continued to make a huge difference to local families.

On both occasions that schools have closed to most pupils, the government announcement has taken immediate effect. However the Kirklees family of schools have done a wonderful job in responding quickly to provide remote learning for thousands of children.

We’re proud of our work in helping disadvantaged children to aspire, achieve and fulfil their potential.”