21 Years of the Learning Foundation

Niel McLean, Chair of Trustees at the Learning Foundation presenting at the Network Away Day 2022

by Valerie Thompson | November 2, 2022 |

In 2001, 21 years ago, I applied for a job to help get a new charity, the e-Learning Foundation, operational. To my delight I was offered the role and in the spring of 2021 we set up a small office in Leatherhead, Surrey. The brief was relatively simple – to make sure that every child in this country had the learning technology for when and where they wanted to learn.  We calculated that came to about 5m children. The dominant technology at the time was laptops and ISDN connection to the Internet.

Microsoft and the Department for Education put their hands in their pockets and stumped up the start-up funding we needed. David Blunkett, and his black dog, launched the charity at the House of Commons. And so we began.

It’s been an amazing journey, the technology has changed constantly, and we’ve had an amazing board of Trustees over the years from the worlds of business, charities, the House of Commons, and the Lords.

We were naïve back then. We gave ourselves 7 years to overcome the educational disadvantage that digital exclusion creates. Sadly,it’s going to take a lot longer. I retired as CEO in 2015 but am proud to still be involved as a Trustee and wish the new team, who are doing such an amazing job, a very happy 21st birthday.

Author: Valerie Thompson, Learning Foundation Trustees

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