Academies Fund helps to bridge the digital divide

At the end of March, our philanthropy team launched the GDST Hardship Fund, to support girls whose family’s economic circumstances had been impacted by COVID, to the extent that they were no longer able to pay school fees. However, the pandemic also brought to light another issue – the digital divide.

gdst academy

Having launched a Guided Home Learning offering across the GDST, we realised that many girls at our sister Academies, Birkenhead High School Academy and Belvedere Academy, were unable to participate fully due to lack of suitable devices. Thus the Academies Student Support Fund was launched, to ensure every girl had access to a laptop.

Thanks to the generosity of parents, alumnae and staff throughout the GDST, all girls have returned to school fully equipped with the resources they need to benefit from their education.

  • 142 donors generously supported the Academies Student Support Fund
  • £24,680 was raised 
  • 80 laptops were purchased for students to use as a result

Principal of Belvedere Academy, Julie Taylor,  said: 

“Most students, especially years 10 to 13, have had to self-isolate this term and thus had to move to the remote home learning model. It is even more important that all pupils have access to a device that is fit for purpose. The additional devices have been invaluable. We are so grateful to everyone who supported.”

Head of Birkenhead High School Academy, Rebecca Mahony said: 

The laptops we were able to purchase thanks to the Student Support Fund are proving essential for the continuation of the girls’ education. They are able to join in with lessons from home, enabling some semblance of normality”

“We are so grateful to everyone that has donated to the joint Academies Student Support Fund and I know the students and families are very appreciative too. It’s making a huge difference to young people from less affluent backgrounds at this very difficult time for us all.”

Students at the academies that are benefitting from the laptops said:

“I was trying to share my brother’s computer which meant that I wasn’t always able to do the live lessons because he would be using it too.”

“I completed my English NEA project on the Chromebook which took time and effort  to complete which would not have been possible without the device.”

“I would thank the donors as the access to a device that can help me with my school work has significantly reduced my stress through the turbulent and unsure predicaments.”

The families of those that are benefitting said:

“Without a doubt, it has helped her to carry on making progress even when she hadn’t been in school for months. She found it useful that the teachers still carried on with assemblies and she enjoyed watching them each week. She wouldn’t have been able to do this without the device and would have missed out on this important aspect of community.”

“Myself and my daughter were extremely grateful that she was given a Chromebook to use. The devices we had at home were not suitable and were shared with siblings. In such an important academic year, it was essential that my daughter was able to keep up with her studies, and without the use of the Chromebook it is likely that she would have fallen behind.”