Education workers across Hackney have been giving away pens, notepads and other resources to schools in an attempt to help the borough’s most vulnerable children with their studies during the pandemic.

The donations, which so far total £1,000, are part of a campaign by the National Education Union (NEU) to support teachers and kids while highlighting a lack of funding for schools, particularly with the added expenses brought on by Covid.

The initiative, which is also being run in Lambeth and Croydon, ties in with Hackney Council’s fight to narrow the ‘digital divide’ exacerbated by the virus.

The borough’s deputy mayor and education chief Cllr Anntoinette Bramble told the Citizen last month that thousands of laptops are still needed for local home learners, with 4,000 pupils at the time thought not to have sufficient facilities for online lessons.

Hackney NEU branch officer Jamie Duff said: “We know the council has been active in helping to source laptops and schools have also worked hard to find resources for students.

“We feel that we need to not only help and support these initiatives but also highlight the fact schools are woefully underfunded and have had additional financial pressures as a consequence of Covid.

“Our contribution will not solve the funding issues but is sadly necessary in the absence of proper funding for our schools. The government needs to put together a properly funded Covid recovery plan for education”

The union has organised a Zoom meeting for parents, educators and the wider community on Wednesday 24 February at 7pm, with local MP Diane Abbott expected to join a panel to discuss what needs to be in place if schools are to recover successfully from the pandemic.

Duff added: “The community meeting is really important. We need to be thinking about not only a safe return for schools but also what the post-Covid educational recovery is going to look like.

“Children and young people have had to sacrifice an enormous amount during this pandemic and often they have no voice. We as a community need to get together and fight for government resources and energy to be targeted at schools and community organisations so they can provide what our children really deserve – a properly funded, all-round education.”

You can register in advance for next Wednesday’s Zoom discussion here

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