Somerset Chamber

Talk to the team 01823 444924


Tell us your business news

Learn more


Partner news

Weston College launches laptop support to bridge digital divide

The rapid growth of remote education, digital working and dependence on technology in many aspects of day-to-day life has shone a light on digital poverty across the UK. Closing the digital divide is a national challenge, requiring a national effort.

As part of the Department for Education’s (DfE) Get Help with Technology scheme, Weston College has received over 380 devices to support learners disadvantaged by their access to technology. Learners who have been struggling to participate in remote education can benefit from this scheme if they do not own a device, only have a smartphone or only have one shared device in their household.

Learners are identified through an online referral form completed by course tutors. The LibraryPlus team are working with tutors and learners to issue devices along with guidance to access their Office 365 applications including Microsoft Teams. Where on-site facilities are required for vulnerable learners, the LibraryPlus team are also providing safe access to pre-booked computers within Knightstone Library, providing a safe space to work with the IT resources they need.

Business support teams including LibraryPlus, Estates, IT and the College Registrar have worked to ensure learners can benefit from the new DfE scheme within days of the devices being delivered. 

Principal, Dr Paul Phillips CBE (pictured), said: “We have exceptional remote learning here at the college being a Microsoft Showcase College and when the pandemic initially hit we created a £200k Bursary Scheme, to provide laptops to those that needed them most. But as lockdown has continued, it is apparent that this is a problem that has affected so many more learners generally across the UK, with many unable to engage fully, as they are share computers with siblings etc, which does not create a positive learning approach. 

“Therefore, the Government scheme is a very welcome necessity at the moment, and it is to be commended on how quickly and smoothly these devices have arrived, and how quickly our team have been at getting the devices out to those in need. Once again we are ensuring that these laptops reach those who have the greatest need and who meet the criteria, to ensure they continue to receive a high quality education despite the pandemic.”

Connect. Influence. Grow.

Join Somerset Chamber of Commerce to give your business a stronger voice both locally, regionally and nationally. Combined with local town chambers, we represent over 2,000 businesses across Somerset with a direct line to policy-makers at all levels.

Discover the benefitsJoin now