The Learning Foundation is a national charity that helps schools work with their families to provide computers and, where needed, access to the Internet, for all of their pupils regardless of their circumstances and abilities. We believe that every child should have the same opportunity and access to the educational benefits that good home access to the internet and learning technologies provides and we also believe that where parents are able to contribute towards the cost of that provision they should do so.
We work independently
We are completely independent and objective and do not sell any of the equipment or systems involved; our function is simply to advise schools on how best to set up their programme so that it is sustainable, fair and affordable, and takes advantage of any available grants and tax relief. Where we are asked to, we can also help take the administration burden away from schools by collecting donations from parents on their behalf. Finally, we campaign on behalf of disadvantaged families so that their children have access to vital learning technologies.
If your school doesn’t currently have a programme then ask them why not…!
What is a 1:1 (One-to-One) programme?
We say that we believe that every ‘child should have the same opportunity to the educational benefits that good home access to the Internet and learning technologies offers’ but to make it simpler we refer to this as a One-to- One (1:1) programme. This simply means that every child has their own device that they use in school AND at home. We believe that the best impact of technology in learning comes when every child can broaden their learning through technology in every subject, every day at school and at home.
What do we mean by 'learning technology'?
Learning Technology is a general term that applies to a wide range of items including whiteboards in the classrooms, fixed computer suites at school as well as portable computers (laptops, tablets, etc). It also applies to a broadband connection to the Internet, education software and access to learning resources provided by your school's Learning Platform. Some of this has been in schools for many years but there has been a big change recently as the cost of hardware and software has fallen and the range of learning materials has increased enormously.
What do you mean by an ‘Equity Programme’
Where a school runs an Equity Programme, contributions from parents are treated as a charitable donation to the school rather than a payment scheme where you are expected to buy the device yourself. Because there is no direct link between the donation and ownership of the device, children of parents who can’t donate will have the same right to a device as those of parents who can and do donate. Also because it is a charitable donation we are able to receive additional sums from the government called Gift Aid which helps to boost the money available to the school and the programme.
Your role as a parent or carer
Research continues to show that your engagement as a parent or carer has a positive impact on many indicators of achievement for your child, including:
- higher grades and test scores,
- higher successful completion of classes,
- lower drop-out rate,
- higher graduation rate, and
- a greater likelihood of staying in education after secondary school.
But, beyond educational achievement, your engagement is also associated with other important indicators of development at school which include:
- more regular school attendance,
- better social skills,
- improved behaviour,
- better adaptation to school,
- increased social capital,
- a greater sense of personal competence and efficacy for learning,
- greater engagement in school work, and
- a stronger belief in the importance of education.
Of course you’ll know that, as a parent or carer you play a crucial role in your child's education. Even when your children attend full-time school, the learning support that you provide is the single most important factor in their educational success. That help can come in many forms, but one crucial way is by providing children with the learning technologies they need at home, a computer and access to the Internet.
Making a contribution as a parent
Schools rarely have the funding to provide every pupil with their own computer for use at home as well as in school, and there is nothing that says that they must. However, some schools share our belief that their pupils should have 1:1 access; knowing what a difference it can make to their education results. Most schools will need their parents to agree to contribute towards the cost however, either by buying a computer your child can take to school or contributing to a school programme, in order to make it possible.
Sometimes, if not enough parents agree to contribute to the programme, the school cannot take the programme forward. It is therefore vital that every parent who can contribute does do something, even if they can’t manage the whole of the recommended amount. Most schools will also happily work with parents to find the best way forward for you, for your child and for the school.
An easy way to contribute is to pay by direct debit. The direct debit facility means that once you have signed up to your school’s learning programme you don’t have to remember to organise payments every month or quarter. It’s easy and convenient. All you have to do is to complete the Donation Form provided by your school or the online form that you can access from the school’s website and give us a few basic details such as:
- How much you want to donate (your school will recommend a suitable amount)
- How often (monthly, quarterly, etc)
- How many payments in total you want to make (so a three year programme would be 36 monthly or 12 quarterly payments)
Bring your own device to school
Some schools encourage pupils to bring their own computer into school. If your child’s school is running a programme like this (sometimes referred to as Bring Your Own Device or BYOD) then you will get good advice from the school about this but it makes sense to check your insurance policy in case of damage or theft whilst the computer is out of your home.
If you are not willing or able to let your child bring their own computer to school then talk to your school about what the alternatives might be. There may be a stock of school devices that can be loaned out, or an alternative way of making sure that your child has a device when it is needed. Schools also have special funding linked to families eligible for Pupil Premium so, if this applies to you, ask the school whether they can use some of this to help you.
Buying or Leasing a device
Some schools may run a scheme that encourages parents to buy or lease a recommended device directly. This has the advantage that all pupils have the same device, which avoids "one-upmanship" by better off pupils and ensures that every child has the same capability in the classroom and for homework. However, this may also involve credit checking (in the case of signing a lease) or a large upfront payment. If this is a problem for you then ask the school whether there are any alternatives; schools have special funding for families’ eligible for Pupil Premium so if this applies to you ask the school if this can be used to pay for your child's computer.