Cllr Michelline Ngongo with pupils and the Chromebook laptops at Arts & Media School Islington

Cost of living: Islington Council tackles digital poverty with more than 600 free laptops for pupils joining secondary school

More than 600 pupils who started secondary school this autumn without a laptop computer of their own are being given a device by Islington Council to help them keep up with their studies – narrowing the digital divide between children and helping families cope with the cost of living crisis.

The council has almost finished distributing 623 Chromebook devices to local secondary schools, which estimated that around half of Year 7 pupils who started with them this autumn do not have access to their own laptop computer at home or at school. 

Cllr Michelline Ngongo, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “Islington already has the highest level of child poverty in London. The cost of living crisis is hitting households right across Islington, but it’s the families most in need who are suffering the worst effects of rising prices – threatening to deepen inequalities even more. 

“For some, whose daily dilemma now is whether to pay for heating or eating, a laptop for their child is simply out of the question. We have stepped in to help because we’re determined to make Islington a more equal place, where all children and young people have the very best start in life, whatever their background. 

“These laptops will put our children on a more level playing field as they start secondary school. None of our young people should be at risk of falling behind in their studies simply because they don’t have access to essential learning equipment.” 

Digital poverty is an increasingly important contributor to overall inequality in Islington – as it is around the country – with pupils disadvantaged if they cannot access online learning materials, undertake independent research, or complete homework and other assignments online. 

As well as acquiring the Chromebooks for pupils who need them, Islington has also ensured all of its libraries have remained open, offering warm, quiet study environments with desk space and free wi-fi access – part of its commitment to creating a more equal borough. 

The programme builds on the council’s work during the pandemic, ensuring that hundreds of laptops were supplied to children who would otherwise have been excluded entirely from remote learning during lockdowns and class bubble closures. 

 

Notes to editor 

In addition to all maintained secondary schools in Islington, laptops will also be provided to all Year 7 pupils who need them in the borough’s special schools. 

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