Matt Colley with head teacher Inger O'Callaghan

Small business owners have worked together to provide laptops to a school in Bristol – so children can study from home in the event of self-isolation.

Matt Colley heads Moving Experience mortgage advisors and is also a school governor at Glenfrome Primary School – where he was made aware of the need for extra equipment.

Matt got in touch with his firm’s trusted IT suppliers, Dean Wood of Smart Computers, which also offers a business support service.

Matt said: “We didn’t want any children to miss out because they had to stay at home but didn’t have the right kit.

“I knew people in the small business community would have the skills, contacts and willingness to help.”

The school offers blended learning – the use of online support alongside classroom lessons – to help children study at home should someone they have to self-isolate.

Members of staff and 160 pupils across three-year groups were forced to self-isolate in October after three positive coronavirus cases.

Equipment shortage

Matt, who has worked in financial services for over 20 years, said: “The teachers did a great job of supporting students with prepared videos, phone calls and using online resources.

“But not everyone could fully engage because they didn’t have the necessary equipment and the school did not have enough laptops to lend out.

“The school governors and teachers agreed that access to technology shouldn’t be a barrier to learning. However, cost is always an issue and it’s important that the school achieves the maximum we can with the resources available”

The team at Smart Computers agreed to refurbish and provide seven machines at a heavily discounted rate – with Moving Experience meeting a third of the cost.

Dean, director at Smart Computers, said: “We sourced some computers which were perfect for the school’s needs and we are happy to give back to the community.”

Ongoing solution

Government guidelines recommend children self-isolate if they or someone in their household has coronavirus symptoms.

With over 400 children attending Glenfrome, which Ofsted has rated as ‘good’ in all areas, the school has been preparing children for the possibility of home study in future. This includes the use of online apps at school, to make the transition easier.

Head teacher Inger O’Callaghan said: “We had three bubbles closed before half term, which coincided with the reduction in the technology offer from the Department for Education.

“We were delighted therefore to receive the funding from Matt, which enabled us to support more of our families to access home learning.”

Laptop allocation for deprived pupils was reportedly cut at some schools in October.

The government has since pledged to provide 440,000 more laptops by Easter to support remote education.