Fran Juckes, who heads up our ESOL (English) team, writes about the importance of leading a digital life.
“At the start of the first lockdown, we conducted a digital survey with our ESOL (English) students at KLS. We discovered that out of the 97 students we talked to, only 1 had access to their own computer. Out of the few that shared a computer with up to 6 members of their household, only 11 were able to use this to access online classes. The overwhelming majority attended their online classes with a smartphone, while 15 had no online presence at all.
Although the switch to online learning has been tough, the ESOL team and the students have approached it with the mind-set
that we are all learning together. We are able to help each other through problems and laugh at our mistakes together.
Above all lockdown has been the opportunity to address the issue of digital inclusion. We knew we had to deal with it, but we never ‘found the time’. Our Director, Aaron Barbour has, with other local partners, set up ‘Wandsworth Digital’ – an initiative to make Wandsworth the most digitally inclusive borough in London. One of the exciting things to come out of this is that KLS has started a Laptop Lending Library in our ESOL department.
Support from Wandsworth Council
A core partner in our plans is Wandsworth Council and their Lifelong Learning department (who have supported our ESOL work for a few years). They have recently supported us to deliver IT classes for beginners. They’ve been very flexible in how we are able to deliver this under current constraints.
Wandsworth Council has now made a generous donation of 10 laptops to our ESOL team. This means that all of our Maths students will now be able to access their classes on a computer. This is a really important step forward. Most of our students are parents with children at primary and secondary school. Although some of their children have access to loaned devices through their schools, they need them all day long for their lessons. One of the things we try to instil at KLS is the idea that we never stop learning, and our parents often find that their children love learning alongside them and are proud of their efforts.
Apart from online lessons, another benefit that these laptops will bring to our students is opening up access to everything else that they can do online: from applying for jobs, making appointments with their GPs and other local services, to accessing important current events and even keeping in contact with their families thousands of miles away. An important step forward in narrowing the inclusion gap.”
Wandsworth Council have done a little write up themselves here.
Donate a laptop
If you’d like to make a donation to help us build our ‘laptop lending library’ then please do so here.
To donate an old (but working) laptop them please do so here.
To volunteer with our ESOL team then please contact Fran directly (details below).
020 7223 2845