On 20th March 2020, schools across the UK closed their doors to all pupils, excluding the children of essential workers and those regarded as most vulnerable. Replacing ordinary school, pupils were expected to learn the national curriculum from home.
For pupils to access educational resources remotely, however, they must also have access to a functional electronic device. Yet, for millions of children around the UK, this is not the case.
According to the UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom, it is estimated that between 1.14m and 1.78m children in the UK have no home access to a laptop, desktop, or tablet. Millions more only have access to a shared device. So for many, home-studying is an impossible task.
One school that has experienced this digital divide is St. Mary’s primary school in Oxted. During the national lockdown, the staff at St. Mary’s found that nearly one in ten of their students did not have access to adequate home-learning resources.
After reaching out to parents on how to tackle the issue, Head Teacher, Mrs Sarah Lewis, made a pledge to purchase 100 Chromebooks in the school’s name. The Chromebooks will be loaned to certain pupils throughout the school term, providing extra assistance during normal school and offering protection against any future disruptions to learning.
To purchase 100 Chromebooks, Sarah and the school need to raise a huge £20,000. Sarah has already withdrawn £12,000 from the school’s resources, leaving £8,000 to be raised via donations and fundraising events.
As part of her fundraising efforts, Sarah has organised a group of parents and teachers to perform a classical concert at the Barn Theatre in Oxted. The Chromatic Classical Extravaganza for Chromes will feature many classical favourites including Saint Saens, ‘The Swan’, and ‘Dvorak Humoresque’.
The group will perform to a socially distanced audience on Sunday 11th October. The performance will be recorded and broadcast from Sarah‘s YouTube channel for those who cannot attend the live show.
Tickets cost £10 for the live concert. Viewing on Sarah’s YouTube channel will be free but a link to donate to the campaign will be posted alongside the video.
The Barn Theatre are honoured to be hosting the concert, and hope that they will be able to help raise a substantial amount of money for the school.
The theatre and the primary school have embarked on numerous projects together throughout the years. Between them, they have raised thousands of pounds for a variety of local causes. These include the refurbishment of the Barn Theatre and the building of the all-weather games area at St. Mary’s school. Previous shows that featured St. Mary’s pupils and staff include Jingle Barn Rock (2016), Jolly Holly Christmas (2017), Shining Shimmering Splendid (2019) and Musical Mayhem (2020).
To donate directly to St. Mary’s ‘Chromes for Loan’ Campaign, visit www.donatemyschool/stmary’scofeprimaryschool2315. To purchase tickets to the live concert, call the Barn Theatre Box Office on 01959 561811 or visit www.barntheatreoxted.so.uk. For those unable to attend the live concert, the recording will be posted onto ‘Mrs.L’s Music’ channel on YouTube.