Doncaster school which helped over 200 families get computers for online learning is now finding ways to get them away from their screens

They have helped some 200 families get their children online for classes over lockdown – and now leaders at a Doncaster school are trying to get them away from screens!

Tuesday, 16th February 2021, 7:00 am

Leaders at McAuley School in Cantley, the borough’s Catholic secondary school, have managed to distribute around 230 devices to families either on loan, or through affordable devices that parents can buy for their youngsters to use during the latest schools lockdown.

Now they have rolled out a new scheme called Happy Hour, which is looking to get youngsters to find a relaxing activity away from their computers to give them a break.

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James Tucker, assistant principal at McAuley School, with one of the laptops they have given out.

Assistant headteacher James Tucker said: “We have brought in happy hour each day, and that’s a time where we’ve not set any work, so they have an hour to look after their own wellbeing, reduce anxiety and take stock of what they need.

"You can get so focussed on making sure there is work, but the social side and mental health is important too.

“We’ve launched it this month.”

Some of the youngsters have done artwork. Some have done poems, and Mr Tucker said they had positive feedback on the move

He said part of the idea was that the youngsters would get some time away from screens, and that time was being structured in to help them do that.

Mr Tucker said the school had worked hard to make computers available for pupils who may otherwise have had problems accessing online lessons since the start of the latest lockdown, early in January.

"The school had the foresight to see this was coming,” he said. “We bought in a lot of good value devices. In the last few weeks, we’ve managed to get 200 to families that didn’t previously have them.

"As a big organisation, we had the purchasing power to do that, and get laptops which will do what they need for online lessons."

Around 130 have been loaned out, and about 85 had been bought by parents either up front or paying in instalments.

"It’s been a big piece of work, but we think it is something that makes a difference to a lot of our pupils,” added Mr Tucker.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.