DISADVANTAGED pupils at schools across York now have access to online lessons, thanks to a £10,000 flash fundraising programme by local Rotarians.

When the three York Rotary Clubs heard that local York students were struggling to take part in on line lessons from home because they didn’t have access to computers they teamed up to provide money to buy 32 brand new Chromebook laptop computers.

York, Vikings and Ainsty Rotary Clubs pooled funds from cancelled charity events and club members dipped deep into their own pockets to raise £10,000 to buy the vital equipment for local secondary schools.

York Vikings Rotary Club president, Mick Fox: “It was clear from talking to senior teachers that there were too many pupils across York who risked missing out on vital lessons simply because they didn’t have the technology to join in. In many cases these were children who were already disadvantaged. We wanted to step in and help.

“The Rotary movement is all about making a positive difference, locally and internationally. All three clubs had no hesitation. Within days, we had teamed up to raise a staggering £10,000 so we could quickly provide the equipment local schools so desperately needed.”

According to Eileen Davis who heads the Rotary in York initiative, this is just the first phase of the move to support local schools and colleges. She said: “We had a fantastic response from the six schools and colleges we have helped so far and we are happy to hear from others who need our support. The Chromebook laptops we provide are owned by the schools and loaned out to students who need them.”

So far, York High, Fulford, Vale of York and Huntington schools, York College and The Danesgate Community have all benefited from the Rotary Club support programme.

For Mark Richardson, head of Danesgate Community, the donation has provided a real lifeline in a different way. The school has pupils ranging in age from five to sixteen, many with complex social, emotional and education needs. Because of this, most of the 220 pupils have continued to attend school during lockdown.

“Funding is always a challenge, and until Rotary stepped in we had only around 20 laptops in total for the whole school. With many of our students requiring learning programmes individually tailored for them, the additional Chromebook laptops have made a massive difference and will continue to do so long after the pandemic is over.

“As a genuinely ‘community’ school we are thrilled to receive this kind of generous support from local organisations like Rotary and look forward to giving back to the community when circumstances allow.”