£35k digital poverty support scheme for Antrim and Newtownabbey schools

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Ten schools in Antrim and Newtownabbey have expressed an interest in a scheme to “support pupils in digital poverty”.

A report to the borough council’s Community Planning Committee stated that funding of £35,000 from the Department for Communities has been made available for IT equipment for post-primary and special schools through the Covid-19 Community Support Fund.

It will be used to “support pupils in digital poverty especially if required to study from home due to Covid-19”.

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In total, 49 devices have been requested at a cost of £22,624.

Education Minister Peter Weir visited Monkstown Boxing Club recently.Education Minister Peter Weir visited Monkstown Boxing Club recently.
Education Minister Peter Weir visited Monkstown Boxing Club recently.

A request has also been made by Monkstown Boxing Club which has been recommended for approval and committee members will consider at a meeting on Monday evening.

In partnership with Abbey Community College, Monkstown Boxing Club delivers an employability support programme to young people, including those not in education, employment or training.

An officer’s report to the council committee states:  “Access to enhanced IT equipment such as tablets and laptops would enable staff to greatly improve services to this vulnerable and isolated group.

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“At present the club’s services are stretched and additional capacity would have a direct impact on those facing long term economic inactivity.

“The club currently offer support to young people from Rathcoole, Monkstown and Rathfern.”

Last month, Education Minister Peter Weir visited Monkstown Boxing Club to learn about the ‘Aspire’ Education Support Programme and how the creative programme inspires young people to “re-engage positively with education and fulfil their potential”.

Speaking at the time, the minister said: “Without the vital interventions by the club along with Abbey Community College, the young people taking part may not achieve sufficient GCSE qualifications, to enable them to progress to further education, training and employment.

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“I am also personally encouraged that the initiative also clearly improves the general mental health and well-being of the students whilst providing them with direction and a focus.

“I am very encouraged to see at first-hand how education in the community initiatives such as this are helping pupils to develop skills to inspire them to build a positive attitude to education that will carry through to the future.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

Click here to read: Newtownabbey pupils learning to ‘give their brain a break’ during challenging times


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