Magnificent readers help get computers to schoolkids during lockdown

Double your money! As magnificent readers help get computers to schoolkids during lockdown, big-hearted firms boost donations total to astonishing £750k

  • Readers have raised £375,000 in just three days to help pupils in lockdown 
  • Insurance giant Direct Line has added £125,000 and Peak Scientific £250,000 
  • Further companies are rushing to offer second-hand laptops  

Generous companies yesterday helped lift the Mail’s laptops campaign to an amazing £750,000.

Our readers have given a phenomenal £375,000 – in just three days – to help lockdown pupils.

And now insurance giant Direct Line has added £125,000 and technology firm Peak Scientific £250,000.

Further companies are rushing to offer second-hand laptops – a crucial element of the Mail Force crusade.

The Computers for Kids campaign was launched to help children who are unable to follow online lessons.

Insurance giant Direct Line has added £125,000 and technology firm Peak Scientific £250,000. Pictured: Chief executive of Direct Line, Penny James 

With classrooms shut until possibly Easter, and a third of families saying they do not have enough devices, countless youngsters are falling behind with their studies. We are raising money for Mail Force, the charity set up last year to tackle PPE shortages in the NHS. Mail Force is committed to getting laptops to schoolchildren fast.

Readers have been digging deep and yesterday donors included a 91-year-old widow raiding her pension as well as pupils giving their pocket money.

Every penny will be spent on getting laptops and tablets to those who so desperately need them. 

The Department for Education is already running a mammoth project to source 1.3million devices and has delivered more than 800,000 so far.

The Computers for Kids campaign was launched to help children who are unable to follow online lessons

Penny James, chief executive of Direct Line Group, said: ‘This is a cause that I and my colleagues feel passionately about. We’re delighted to join with the Mail and help Britain’s children to learn at home.

‘While lockdown has meant we’re physically distant, campaigns like this help us to pull together and support each other.’

Jonathan Golby, chief executive of Glasgow-based Peak Scientific, which helped develop the Covid vaccine, said: ‘I have heard stories about children having to share their parents’ mobile phones to do their school work on, and this is just unsustainable.

‘We have all got a role to play, and these children clearly need our help quickly, if they are not to fall behind in their studies.’

With classrooms shut until possibly Easter, and a third of families saying they do not have enough devices, countless youngsters are falling behind with their studies

Nothing Mail Force does will undermine the Government’s own drive to get laptops to children. It will simply boost the supplies and speed things up.

Companies are donating used laptops to the scheme. For around £15, a used machine can be securely wiped and refurbished, and made fully classroom-ready according to Department for Education specifications.

Mail Force has teamed up with one of the world’s leading IT specialists to perform industry ‘gold standard’ refurbishments of computers.

So £15 could rescue the education of a child falling perilously behind those classmates whose families can afford laptops. A re-used laptop is also one that saves the environment from the scourge of further landfill.

According to an exclusive survey commissioned by the Mail, one in three parents say the attainment levels of their children have been damaged by the schools closure – with the poorest children worst affected. Approximately half say their ability to focus has suffered, and more than four in ten say their joy of learning has dimmed.

Mail Force is also using its funds to purchase new laptops – all of which will be gifted to the DfE’s existing programme, to accelerate the rollout.

The campaign has been backed by the Government, teaching unions, parents, head teachers and a growing list of high-profile individuals including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and bestselling children’s author David Walliams.

Many Mail readers will have posted cheques that have yet to arrive but yesterday, among the latest donors online, was one pensioner giving £15. She hopes the campaign will help her granddaughter who has no device and is forced to wait for her father to come home from work to use his smartphone.

She wrote: ‘My own seven-year-old granddaughter is in need of a computer, she has to use her dad’s phone but has nothing while he’s in work so I hope this might also help her.’

An 82-year-old donor, who gave her name as Trish and has a teenage grandchild to care for, gave £10, saying: ‘Struggling … but wish to help other young people.’

The Daily Mail poll illustrates the effect of school closures on children and shows four in ten parents say the cost of computers and other items they need is too high

Another OAP offered £45 for the ‘good cause’ by selling produce from his allotment. A 91-year-old widow gave £100.

June and John each gave £15 from their pensions and wrote on the online donations page: ‘This is an important cause. My wife and I are pensioners so we would like to donate £15 each to have two computers made available for schoolchildren.’

A schoolboy named Zain gave £15 from his pocket money and wrote: ‘It’s so important for us young ones to have the tools we need to learn. This is a great idea.’

There were also several huge donations including £5,000 from one individual and £1,000 from reader Sally Stevens.

Rahul Moodgal, who donated £2,000, said: ‘What an amazing initiative. I have to support you. Good luck.’

Mail reader Jocelyn, who gave £100, compared the difficulties faced by young children today to her education during the war.

She said: ‘I do not want this to happen to our next generations so am eager to help.’ Jackie Dupey donated £20 after realising how lucky her own grandchildren who have devices were, adding: ‘My family are privileged, I am a granny helping with home schooling, they have a laptop each. I suddenly realised how privileged they are, I had to do something.’

Ted Warren, who gave £500, said: ‘I had a good education and want today’s children to benefit from education.’

Anne King, who gave £30, said: ‘We are helping to home-school our grandson. I cannot imagine how difficult it would be without a laptop. This is a fantastic cause.’

A donor who called herself ‘Nanny C’ gave £100, adding: ‘I have seen what a difference laptops have made for our grandchildren so I want other children to have the same benefit.’ 

£250k from Peak Scientific

A family business whose lab equipment was used to develop the Pfizer vaccine has pledged a stunning £250,000 to the Mail Force campaign.

The offer came in a phone call yesterday morning from Jonathan Golby, chief executive of Peak Scientific, who said: ‘It is a good and important initiative, and we are delighted if we can help.’

The Glasgow-based company, which makes gas generators, has 24 offices around the world, with a 550-strong workforce including 285 staff in the UK.

Its equipment produces nitrogen gas used in mass spectrometers, which calculate the exact molecular weight of samples – and one of the firm’s gadgets was used by Pfizer’s partner BioNTech during the creation of the first Covid vaccine approved for use in Britain.

Mr Golby said: ‘These are challenging times, and we are proud that our technology has been used to help develop the Covid vaccine. Now we want to do what we can to help the next generation of scientists get a chance to study and learn. We are a family-owned business, and we already do a lot of work with organisations that support young people, such as Outward Bound. We’ve recently employed 20 graduates as well, and we are keen to help young people develop. Helping to fund Mail Force felt like the next initiative.

‘It is our belief that young people out there are really needing help and support at the moment. If they can’t get through their education successfully, then it is going to impact their whole lives.

‘This is especially true for those in disadvantaged positions, such as not being able to get access to the internet.

‘I have heard stories about children having to share their parents’ mobile phones to do their schoolwork on, and this is just unsustainable.

‘We have all got a role to play, and these children clearly need our help quickly if they are not to fall behind in their studies.’

£125k from Direct Line Group

The Direct Line Group has answered the call to arms with £125,000 for the Mail Force fund.

Chief executive Penny James set the ball rolling just hours after this newspaper launched the drive for donations on Saturday. ‘We’re delighted to join with the Mail and help Britain’s children to learn at home,’ she said. ‘While lockdown has meant we’re physically distant, campaigns like this help us to pull together and support each other.’

The Direct Line Group – which also owns the Churchill and Green Flag brands – is one of the UK’s biggest insurance firms. It has established a fund to support charitable causes and communities across the country in response to the Covid crisis.

Ms James said of the Computers for Kids campaign: ‘This is a cause that I and my colleagues feel passionately about, and is exactly why we set up our Community Fund. While normal life might be on hold, we can’t pause a child’s education during these tough times. We might be stuck in our homes, but a laptop with internet access is a window into the world and all it can offer. That’s why we’re doing our bit.’

Direct Line Group employs 11,000 staff in the UK. Many of them are now working from home – and plenty will know all too well the challenges of trying to juggle jobs and home-schooling commitments.

 

We love our laptops! As campaign gathers pace, the rollout that’s leading the way

No longer afraid I’ll fall behind

Amelia Locke, 14, had been worried about falling behind with her classwork during lockdown.

But she has just received a laptop from her school – and says that it has transformed her life.

Two of Alice Locke’s daughters – Karma, nine, and Amelia, 14, with their laptops given to them by their schools 

Amelia, a pupil at Durrington High School in Worthing, West Sussex, one of the largest schools in the country, said: ‘I’m able to focus on my schoolwork and I’m not worried about going back to school any more. It’s a lot easier being able to physically see my teachers. I feel like I’m catching up quite a bit now.

‘Before, I was worried about going back because I would have missed out on a lot of things that my class had done because I didn’t have a laptop.’

She is the eldest of four children, including a one-year-old brother who suffers from a heart condition. Her mother, Alice, said the family had to struggle through the first lockdown last year without any technology at home.

Thanks to a laptop supplied via the Department for Education, Amelia can relax. She can participate fully in remote learning and no longer has to rely on work posted out.

Alice, 31, who was made redundant just before the first lockdown, said her daughter had been ‘stressed beyond belief’ at falling behind.

Durrington High School, which has 1,650 pupils – 21 per cent of them identified as disadvantaged – received 15 laptops in the summer and another 100 on January 11. Sue Marooney, executive head of the school, said: ‘The delight when our team have delivered some of the devices is absolutely fantastic. I just think for the wider community and Daily Mail readers – this is investing in not just a child’s future but everyone’s future.

‘You’ve got staff delivering lessons, recorded videos – so no matter how good a work pack is, it bears no relation to having that interactive experience.’

So easy to use… we enjoy our learning much more now

Happily working away on their laptops, these school pals are just some of the children seeing their education transformed with much-needed access to computers.

Their school, Newbridge Junior School in Portsmouth, has received 116 laptops from the Department for Education in a drive to ensure all children can continue to learn digitally during the pandemic.

Demi Favell, nine, felt the new devices had vastly improved the way in which she learned this time around.

‘I feel the laptops are easier to access work – I can work independently and enjoy learning so much more than the first lockdown,’ she said.

Newbridge Junior School in Portsmouth, Hampshire, has 116 laptops from the DFE, but they have over 600 pupils

Her friend Keira Coles, also nine, added: ‘I think it’s great that we have laptops and iPads – I love using them now and feel really confident.’ Classmate Oliver Cutler, eight, said: ‘I like laptops because it shows that even if you are home and have no pens or paper, you can still get your teacher teaching you and you can still do your learning.’

And eight-year-old Layla Graham said: ‘I love using the laptops and iPads because it is easy to access the work set by our teacher. Also, if you cannot spell a word, you can easily look it up on an online dictionary!’ While more than 800,000 devices have been delivered to schools across the country by the DfE, it is estimated up to a million children still have no access to computers.

Anna Webb, executive head of Newbridge Junior School and Penhale Infant School, part of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, said that as many as 300 pupils were still using their parents’ mobiles to access schoolwork.

Backing Mail Force’s Computers for Kids mission, the executive head added: ‘This is a brilliant campaign and will make a huge difference to us.

‘We got 116 laptops from the DfE which was great, but we have over 600 pupils across our two schools and around 50 per cent are still trying to access lessons from a mobile phone.

‘We are running a virtual school here with at least three live sessions a day to help children be as engaged as possible – that also helps parents so that they don’t have to home-school.

‘Borrowing mum or dad’s phone, or not having a device at all, makes it so difficult for them to learn as well as we all want. The Daily Mail campaign will help them progress.’

Connecting with teachers and friends boosts mental health

Ruby Spooner, 12, and her 14-year-old brother Billy are delighted their education will no longer be hampered by the digital divide.

The siblings, who go to Bay Leadership Academy in Morecambe, Lancashire, have finally received a laptop each.

Ruby said it meant she was able to keep up with schoolwork but it also helped her to feel ‘connected’ – providing the youngster with invaluable emotional support.

She said: ‘The laptop my school gave to me stops me from feeling lonely. I feel like I’m still going to school and am still connected to my teachers and friends. Every day, we start the day with an assembly about our emotional wellbeing and mental health and how to look after ourselves.

‘The laptop lets me connect with the support staff at school who offer me support during this lockdown, as it can be really difficult.’

Pupils Billy and Ruby Spooner sharing a laptop at Bay Leadership Academy in Morecambe, Lancashire, which is struggling with a shortfall of computers for all students in lockdown

Another child at the school to benefit was Year Seven pupil George Roberts, who said it meant he was able to take part in lessons with his fellow classmates.

He said: ‘I feel really lucky to have been given a laptop because, without it, I wouldn’t have been able to take part in the lessons.

‘We are following our normal timetable with our normal teachers – it’s just all online.’

Principal Colette Roberts said that while some children had benefited greatly, many more pupils at the school were still in need of computers. Backing the Mail’s campaign, she added: ‘The laptops we have had from the DfE and from Star Academies, our academy trust, have made a big difference and been really positive.

‘But with the level of digital poverty we have, and with families sharing multiple devices or with no devices at all, we need more – so the Mail campaign is brilliant and we are fully behind it.’

Shocking impact of lockdown on pupils

School closures are having a devastating impact on children’s ability to learn, according to a report by the Children’s Commissioner.

Anne Longfield told Channel 4 News one in six pupils may now have mental health conditions because of lockdown.

She challenged the Government to be ‘more ambitious’ in child mental health provision, as a ‘cocktail’ of risks have taken a heavy toll. ‘I would like schools to be open as soon as possible but I acknowledge now infection rates and the pressure on the NHS is too high,’ she said.

‘Rather than waiting for this magic moment when schools are going to open, what I would like Government to do is put a plan in place which shows the different factors that need to be taken into account, which will give parents and children hope that it is coming.’

Mrs Longfield also called for ministers to report on plans to reopen schools as part of the daily briefings at No 10.

She has backed Mail Force’s Computers For Kids initiative, saying that helping children to get access to online learning is a ‘vitally important part of making sure they don’t fall further behind during lockdown’. 

SIMON WALTERS: Proof that the poorest are bearing brunt of this crisis

THE devastating way that pupils’ attainment levels and ability to study have plummeted because of school closures is laid bare today.

One in three parents say that their children’s sense of educational fulfilment has been damaged, with the poorest being worst affected.

Approximately half say their ability to concentrate has suffered in lockdown while more than four in ten say their joy of learning has dimmed.

These are among the latest worrying findings of a JL Partners poll for the Daily Mail.

The survey also underlines how parents believe the pandemic has taken a terrible toll on the general mental and physical wellbeing of their children.

Nearly four out of ten say their offspring’s mental health has deteriorated: They have put on weight, are lonely, less happy and worse behaved. The findings will add to growing pressure on Boris Johnson from Tory MPs to set a target date for the re-opening of schools to all children.

Seven in ten voters say the Government’s handling of school closures in January was ‘chaotic’ and a significant number want them to re-open when all over-65s have had a vaccine.

Yesterday the Mail reported how the survey had disclosed that one in three families does not have enough computers or laptops for their youngsters.

It also indicated that parents say the pandemic may have wrecked their children’s chances of getting a good education and job.

Angela Atkins helps her son Jess Atkins work on a maths problem on his laptop during home schooling at their home in Oxford

Today we can disclose how the poll reveals parents’ wider fears of the way Covid curbs, especially school lockdowns, have fundamentally affected their basic ability to learn.

One third (33 per cent) say that the attainment level of their children has declined, while 10 per cent say it has improved.

There is a sharp divide between rich and poor: The attainment level of children from affluent families has been barely dented by the pandemic, the figures show.

One fifth of these parents say attainment levels have worsened; 18 per cent say it has got better; 55 per cent say it is unchanged.

But 35 per cent of the poorest parents say their children’s attainment level has dropped and only 6 per cent say it has improved. The North-South divide is manifested in the effect on children’s reduced ability to concentrate.

In the South of England, 42 per cent of parents say their children’s concentration level has dropped, 16 per cent say it has improved.

Among parents in the less prosperous North, 51 per cent believe their children’s concentration has got worse, 5 per cent say it has improved.

Parents of children hit by disruption to GCSEs and A-levels are most worried about the effect of closures on their education.

More than four in five (81 per cent) of parents of pupils aged 16 to 18 say their education has been set back by this, 4 per cent say it has been helped.

Forty-four per cent of parents say their children’s joy of learning has been diminished and 14 per cent say it has been enhanced.

According to the survey, a total of 37 per cent of children have undergone a deterioration in their mental health, say parents; however, the mental health of 9 per cent has improved. Those entering adolescence have suffered most with the mental health of 45 per cent of 11 to 15-year-olds worsening; the mental health of 5 per cent has got better.

Parents of children hit by disruption to GCSEs and A-levels are most worried about the effect of closures on their education

One in four parents (25 per cent) from the poorest families say their children have piled on the pounds since last March; 8 per cent have lost weight.

In stark contrast, among affluent families, one in five (20 per cent) of children have become slimmer; 12 per cent have got fatter.

The poll suggests the slump in children’s interest in education and overall contentment is linked to school closures making them feel lonely.

Asked what their children most miss about not being at school, 82 per cent of parents of those studying at home say it is not seeing their friends.

Nine per cent say it is ‘lessons’; 4 per cent choose ‘sport’; 1 per cent say children miss school dinners the most.

A total of 34 per cent of all adults say schools should re-open as soon as all over-65s are vaccinated; 33 per cent say they should stay shut when this target is reached. Asked if the Government’s handling of schools in recent weeks – when the Prime Minister reversed a pledge to keep them open in 36 hours – was ‘chaotic’, 69 per cent of all voters agreed.

An even larger proportion of the public, 72 per cent, say decisions affecting pupils were too slow from the start of the pandemic.

Nearly six out of ten voters (58 per cent) say footballer Marcus Rashford, who has campaigned for more help for poor children, has shown more leadership.

I went from binman to professor… I know how vital it is to help bridge Britain’s digital divide, writes LEE ELLIOT MAJOR

There’s a huge debt I owe to a municipal refuse van. It was while working as a binman for a London borough as a teenager in the 1980s that I was forced to re-evaluate my life.

I’ll never forget trudging home, often cold and soaking wet having worked in all kinds of weather, exhausted from dragging and lifting the bins.

It was this experience that instilled in me a growing desire to better myself.

This was a difficult time. My parents split up when I was 15, and I went off the rails, playing truant from school and ending up in shared accommodation on social security.

The conflict and turmoil I experienced on the streets of west London hit me hard.

On one occasion, my Asian friends and I were set upon by a gang of racist skinheads. On another I was threatened with a knife.

To make ends meet, I took all sorts of manual jobs, including stints as a road sweeper and a kitchen cleaner.

What proved my salvation was education. It was the escape route from wage poverty and welfare dependency.

Eventually, with the encouragement of friends and family, I went back to school, sat my A-levels and won a place at Sheffield University to read physics.

I loved studying so much that I stayed on for a PhD in theoretical physics and then gained a Master’s degree at Imperial College, London.

Through the confidence gained from my qualifications, I became a journalist, author, charity executive and academic.

It’s been quite a journey from binman to prof. But it has been the unconventional nature of that personal odyssey that has fuelled the overarching theme of my varied career – to build a better and fairer education system and to nurture aspiration.

Because I am living proof that background, no matter how disadvantaged, should not decide an individual’s fate.

Advancement is within everyone’s grasp – as long as they get the right support and the opportunity.

Having been given a second chance myself, I recognise that, at its best, education can be both a great leveller and a vehicle for a fairer society.

That is why so much of my work has been devoted to the cause of social mobility, whether in my former role as chief executive of The Sutton Trust – which promotes equality of opportunity in education – or now as Britain’s first Professor of Social Mobility.

It is a sad indictment of modern Britain that my job exists at all but, after decades of progress, social mobility has stagnated in recent years because of rising educational and societal inequalities.

Tragically, the Covid pandemic has worsened this problem.

Repeated lockdowns, school closures and the cancellation of exams have hit those from the poorest backgrounds the hardest, further undermining their life chances.

In contrast, privileged pupils have been largely insulated from the crisis.

Research I’ve been involved with found that in April 2020, during the first lockdown, 74 per cent of private school pupils benefited from full school days, mainly through online lessons.

Shamefully, that’s nearly twice the proportion of state pupils. Incredibly, our research also indicates that a quarter of all pupils received no teaching at all in this period.

Even in October, when schools were better prepared, only 60 per cent of state pupils received full-time teaching.

A more recent study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that children from better-off families are spending 30 per cent more time on home learning that those from poorer families.

There are, of course, several factors involved, including school resources and parental input. But undoubtedly a key challenge is the access to suitable technology. What the Covid pandemic has exposed is a glaring digital divide in which lockdown has tilted the playing field even further towards advantaged students.

With schools closed, many poorer pupils have to struggle with limited access to technology or a lack of affordable internet connectivity.

According to a survey by The Sutton Trust, one in five pupils do not even have the use of their own device – perhaps sharing with siblings – while many live in households without any understanding of this technology.

Another recent study found that 22 per cent of the population do not have basic digital skills.

HOW TO DONATE TO COMPUTERS FOR KIDS 

CLICK HERE 

TO DONATE 

TO YOU, THE READER: How to send us donations 

The Daily Mail has launched a brand new campaign, Computers For Kids, to raise money for Mail Force – a charity which aims to provide much needed school equipment and resources for pupils across the UK learning from home.

With schools closed, we are left with the dilemma of hundreds of thousands of pupils in the UK having no access to a computer in their home.

As part of this campaign, companies are donating their old laptops which, for around £15, can be wiped, professionally refurbished and made safe and fit for home schooling. They can then be delivered to a child or young person who needs one.

In addition, the campaign is looking to support children’s needs in other ways such as funding brand new laptops and tablets, and assisting with data access and connectivity for online learning. Any surplus funds will be used to support of the work of UK schools via other means.

TO MAKE A DONATION ONLINE

Visit mailforcecharity.co.uk/donate and follow the steps to complete your donation. 

Please don’t send us your old device.

TO MAKE A DONATION VIA YOUR PHONE

To donate £10 – text KIDS10 to 70115

To donate £20 – text KIDS20 to 70115 

TO COMPANIES: Could you give your old laptops?

Upgrading office computers is something all companies do from time to time – and there has never been a better time to donate old laptops. If you are a company with 50 laptops or more that you could give, please visit www.computacenter.com/daily-mail to check they are suitable and register your donation. We will arrange for collection by our specialist partners Computacenter. Please note: we cannot accept donated laptops from individuals.

COMPANIES SHOULD GO TO: computacenter.com/daily-mail 

TO SCHOOLS: Where to apply for the computers

Schools must apply to the Department for Education, which is managing the demand and prioritising the schools most in need. The Mail Force initiative means more laptops will become available more quickly.

SCHOOLS CAN APPLY HERE: https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk

Just over half of households earning £6,000 to £10,000 have internet access, whereas 99 per cent of households with incomes above £40,000 have such access. That is why I so strongly welcome Mail Force’s Computers for Kids campaign to help boost the Government’s rollout of laptops and tablets to pupils who need them most.

It is a vital and laudable initiative that will make a huge contribution to addressing the digital gap that has become such a threat to social mobility.

It is also a highly practical scheme, harnessing both the expertise of suppliers and the vast national store held by businesses and organisations of redundant but perfectly serviceable computers.

The campaign represents an imaginative and workable answer to an urgent need.

Our society simply cannot tolerate the accelerating slide into educational apartheid, whereby tens of thousands of pupils are treated as second-class citizens and a lack of effective online teaching compounds their deprivation.

Wayne Norrie, the chief executive of the Greenwood Academies Trust, which has 37 schools in poorer areas of the Midlands and the East of England, says that ’60 to 70 per cent of children in our schools wouldn’t have laptops’ and many families ‘do not have broadband contracts’.

According to Matt Morden, co-head of a south London primary: ‘If families are struggling, the priority is going to be food, not data.’ That was also the experience of a Manchester head teacher who told researchers from Cambridge University that one mother said it was ‘pay for the wi-fi or feed the children for a month’.

The difficulty is made worse by differing levels of parental support. In joint research with the London School of Economics, we asked parents of school-age children about the extent to which they felt that they’d been able to make up for the limitations of learning during lockdown.

Of the respondents in the top fifth of earners, 86 per cent reported being able either to make up a little or a lot of lost teaching hours. In contrast, only 29 per cent of those in the bottom fifth of earners expressed the same belief.

With such inconsistent provision of online teaching during the pandemic, it’s no wonder that the achievement gap in education between rich and poor is widening, impacting social mobility.

Such learning losses could affect a whole generation, squandering talent, undermining ambition, increasing unemployment and hurting the economy.

Unfulfilled talent is a tragedy for individuals but it also hits the nation’s prosperity and cohesion.

Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, who has built a formidable reputation as a food poverty campaigner, has graphically described the inequality he faced as a child: ‘I felt I started 50 metres behind everyone in a 100 metres race.’

Education is the only way of bridging such chasms.

Mail Force’s campaign could make a dramatic difference to the opportunities for the most deprived children in society. And with the outlook for schools so uncertain, it will go some way to restoring balance and promoting social justice.

Beyond Covid, what we need is a New Deal of the kind implemented in 1930s America by President Franklin D Roosevelt, who said that ‘no country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources’.

Those were wise words then and they are appropriate for British education today.

In its devastating impact, the Covid crisis has revealed the weakness and unfairness of our school system. If ever there was a time for change – to put social mobility and aspiration at the heart of the curriculum – then it is now.

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