Building contractor donates tablets to schools

A building contractor has handed 50 new tablets to schools in Shropshire, Mid Wales and Cheshire to ensure that children without access to quality technology can learn at home during lockdown.

Pave Aways has given 10 Samsung Galaxy tablets each to Newtown and Welshpool High Schools in Mid Wales, the Telford Langley School, Shrewsbury Academy and Blacon High School in Chester in an £11,500 gesture to support the communities where it works. The tablets, equipped with robust covers, have been distributed by the schools to young people most in need so they can continue their education at home.

A recent survey by the Sutton Trust1 revealed a “digital divide” between children being forced to study at home with 35% of low income families lacking sufficient access to devices for quality learning, compared to 11% of middle income families.

The building firm has a long association of delivering buildings for the education sector and Managing Director Steven Owen said the idea for the donation had come from staff home schooling their own children.

“We realised that studying at home during lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic may be hard for some young people if they don’t have the access to the quality technology they need and this could have a long-term effect on their future. We’d already started the roll out when the Sutton Trust report came out so that reinforced our belief that this was a positive thing to do.

“Two of our key priorities at Pave Aways are putting something back into the communities where we work and supporting young people, so our donation underlines this. We identified schools based on the percentage of free school meals received and they have been genuinely grateful for our support.”

Julie Johnson, Head Teacher at the Shrewsbury Academy said: “This donation will have an incredible impact on our students who are at our school. During the current lockdown we have students in the school community who are struggling to access a device at home, that would enable them to then attend an online lesson.

“This donation will ensure that 10 or more families and students are able to log on to live or remote lessons and have the opportunity to speak to staff and fellow peers alongside being taught.

“These tablets will also provide students with the opportunity of downloading wellbeing apps to support their emotional wellbeing during this time of national lockdown, which is such an important aspect of life.”

Pave Aways is currently building a £2.1m two-storey extension at Blacon High School and started work this week on an £8.4m contract to deliver new school facilities in north Shrewsbury.

It also won the award for Education and Training at last year’s Shropshire Chamber Business Award for its commitment to providing opportunities in construction for young people.