IT equipment support for 10 schools in Antrim and Newtownabbey

Ten schools in Antrim and Newtownabbey are to benefit from IT equipment through the Covid-19 Community Support Fund.

As a result, 54 devices will be purchased at a cost of almost £25,500.

Monkstown Boxing Club is also set to benefit from the scheme.

Recently, the borough council received a request from Groggan Primary School in Randalstown which has also asked to be included.

IT equipment (stock image).

All funding is being provided by the Department for Communities.

Groggan Primary’s most recent parent survey indicated that seven families were struggling with the lack of devices/shared devices with some of the children completing their homework on their parent’s phone during remote learning.

The council’s Community Planning Committee has been told that the school had made devices available to these families but this was no longer possible as the devices were later “needed to support learning in class”.

It has been recommended that councillors approve the request from Groggan Primary to be included in the ‘IT Connectivity Programme’ at a cost of £2,500.

The scheme is currently under-subscribed by £9,585.95 and funds must be spent before March 31.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Peter Weir has reported that more than 24,000 devices have been made available to support pupils to engage with remote learning with up to 10,000 being purchased as a matter of urgency.

The minister said: “Undoubtedly, face-to-face learning is the optimal approach for children and young people.

“However, we as a system are now significantly better prepared and equipped to deliver remote learning than we were last March.

“I welcome that almost £7m of funding has been provided to date to support remote learning during the current financial year.”

This includes £0.2m to provide 8,000 wi-fi vouchers for disadvantaged or vulnerable pupils.

Connectivity will be improved to rural households through ‘Project Stratum’ awarded to Fibrus Networks Ltd by the Department for the Economy,

The council was told at a recent meeting of the local authority that this will deliver a “full fibre, gigabit-capable broadband infrastructure” to more than 76,000 mainly rural premises across Northern Ireland by March 2024, of which 4,932 premises are located within Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

Click here to read: Social housing increased for former Newtownabbey school site

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