Lockdown Laptop Map lists close to 1,000 schools in need of tech supplies

An estimated 1.8 million UK schoolchildren lack access to an internet-connected device at home

A group of UK technologists and campaigners has created a map which highlights which schools are in need of tech supplies, such as laptops, tablets, or SIM cards, in a bid to make it easier for them to connect with tech suppliers.

TechForUK, the group behind the AllOfUsTogther map which last year highlighted those organisations and businesses offering free meals to qualifying children, has now directed its tech expertise towards the digital divide, so far tracking close to 1,000 schools around the country on its Lockdown Laptop Map.

According to Ofcom, almost one in ten (around 9%) of UK schoolchildren lack access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home, with over 880,000 children living in a household with only a mobile internet connection. What is more, many children live in households where they have to share a single device with their siblings, making online learning difficult if they have lessons at the same time.

Although the government promised to provide one million devices to schools, the rollout is slow and may not cover the estimated 1.8 million schoolchildren who lack access to a device at home.

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The Lockdown Laptop Map aims to connect schools to local tech providers or anyone willing to donate a device they no longer need.

TechForUK co-founder Mike Butcher said that the map “helps individuals and companies that want to give, as well as giving schools a place to advertise their needs”.

“We saw the appeals from schools for laptops on social media and wanted to harness the tech community to get surplus equipment safely and simply to those that need it,” he added.

Meanwhile, tech expert Stephen Way, who built the map with TechForUK, said that his experience as a School Governor made him realise the “enormous gulf between the equipment being supplied by the Government and the needs of students in most schools”.

“We know that it’s not just access to a laptop that is a problem for students from the most deprived households, they need somewhere safe to work with wifi access too. But getting devices to them is a big enabler so we hope to make that process easier while pushing for more broadband access,” he said.

The Lockdown Laptop Map, as well as further information on how to donate a device, is available to view here.

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