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250 young people will receive individual laptops and free data to support their learning at home through an initiative between the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and SCC.

The young people from 12 RSC Associate Schools in Birmingham and Warwickshire will receive individual laptops and 12 months of free data per user to support the resilience of schools and young people through the challenges of the current academic year. The equipment will ensure that students can access high quality learning and arts opportunities at home as well as in school.

Ten schools in the regions will receive 25 Acer laptops and 2GB of data per user per month, addressing a significant lack of digital access for pupils in some of the more economically deprived schools in which the RSC operates.

The RSC’s network of over 250 Associate Schools around the country focusses on areas with limited access to arts learning opportunities, and often with a high proportion of students eligible for free school meals. The donation of laptop devices and data is in partnership with SCC. The project is being funded by SCC’s charitable trust, which has long invested in causes relating to lifelong learning, health and education, and currently has more than £1.5million invested in active projects. In addition to supplying the laptops to the Foundation, technology vendor Acer has also committed to donating top-of-the-range protective sleeves for every device.

This project comes at a crucial time for many young people, who now rely more heavily on remote learning and digital access in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many families do not have regular or easy access to computers, mobile tablets or broadband connectivity in their homes.

Jacqui O’Hanlon, RSC Director of Education said: “This is one of the most challenging times to be in education, either as a teacher or student. The ability of schools and families to adapt quickly and easily to the changing context is being constantly tested. This wonderful gift from SCC’s charitable trust means that 250 children will be able to access online learning opportunities wherever they are, and ensure they are acquiring important new skills along the way. The next few months continue to be uncertain, but these young people will have the right tools to keep on progressing and developing, supported both by technology and the talents of their dedicated teachers.”

Sir Peter Rigby, Founder and Executive Chairman of Rigby Group, SCC’s parent company, said: “On behalf of the Group I can’t express how pleased we are to be able to support such a wonderful and life-changing initiative. Digital access is critical both for online learning and to develop digital skills that are becoming more and more important as technology innovation continues in the workplace The impact of COVID-19 has accelerated the requirement for us all to be more reliant on digital access and it’s easy to forget that this is a privilege not afforded to everyone. We hope this donation through our charitable trust to under-privileged children in Birmingham and Warwickshire will improve their learning experience and help them to unleash their potential.”

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