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News24th May 2021

Digital device rollout continues at pace

More than 21,000 digital devices have now been delivered to Ark’s 38 schools to meet our vision that every student in Year 3 and above has access to their own Chromebook to support their independent learning and close educational disadvantage.

This latest milestone comes as Ark prepares to hold an #ArkTalks event tomorrow, Tuesday 25 May, at 17.00 on What is the future of digital technology in schools?

The rollout of devices began last year as part of Ark’s response to the pandemic and is the first phase of our long-term digital strategy. By the end of January, more than 12,000 devices – funded by the Ark charity and the DfE – had been provided to schools to ensure all students had access to devices to support remote learning during the most recent lockdown.

The distribution of devices to students is designed to enable all students to undertake independent learning outside school and to maximise the impact of face-to-face teaching in class. It is an important part of the work of Ark schools to provide excellent teaching and to improve educational opportunities to all its 29,000 students regardless of their background and circumstances.

The distribution of devices has been widely welcomed by schools, students and parents. Yet there continue to be challenges to ensure full access with an Ark survey of parents demonstrating that more than a third of respondents (34%) faced issues with internet connectivity during the lockdowns. Further data from this survey and more on Ark’s digital plans will be picked up for discussion at Tuesday’s event. You can register here.

Lauren Thorpe, Director of Strategy at Ark, said, “Giving each pupil [in Year 3 and upwards] a school-registered Chromebook lays the foundation for our schools to use technology in ways that we could only dream of a few years ago.

“Whether it’s using technology to accurately assess a student’s understanding, to develop pupils’ agency to explore and pursue their own interests beyond the classroom, or to help us connect more effectively with our parent communities, the possibilities are very exciting.

“Crucially, enhancing the possibility of independent learning out of school increases our ability to make the most of time spent face-to face with teachers.”

Lauren will be joined by Andreas Schleicher, Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills at OECD, Rhys Spiers, Principal of Ark Greenwich Free School, Ros Goates, Head of Advocacy and Campaigns at the Social Mobility Foundation’s Department of Opportunities, at tomorrow’s event.

The funding and distribution of these devices have been possible thanks to donations to Ark’s Covid Appeal. These funds were matched by the DCMS Community Match Challenge. We are extremely grateful for the support that enabled this important work.