'I wanted to help my old school' - businessman donates digital devices

Castle Manor Academy headteacher Vanessa Whitcombe with  Paul Donno

Castle Manor Academy headteacher Vanessa Whitcombe with Paul Donno, director of 1 Accounts Online Ltd, who launched a campaign for devices for students - Credit: 1 Accounts

A headteacher says the need for digital devices for remote learning "remains crucial" as her school takes delivery of eight donated laptops.

At one stage during lockdown, more than 100 Castle Manor Academy students were either sharing devices or having to use a mobile phone for remote learning.

We reported earlier this year on communities helping to bridge the gap to ensure pupils were not missing out on education because of digital constraints at home.

Students are now back in the classroom, but Castle Manor headteacher Vanessa Whitcombe said the devices would help those who may not have digital access at home.

The eight laptops were donated by prominent Haverhill businessman Paul Donno, director of 1 Accounts Online Ltd, after he launched a fundraising campaign, which received generous support from the community and business sector.

Mrs Whitcombe said: “We are indebted to Paul for starting this crucial campaign and to everyone who has supported it.

“Our students have really enjoyed being back in school, but the need for digital devices remains crucial."

She added: "We have learnt a lot about remote learning during lockdown and we want to continue this going forward alongside more traditional classroom teaching.”

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When the need for digital devices for remote learning became apparent during lockdown, Mr Donno launched the campaign alongside ONE Haverhill Partnership whose priority task groups include education and business engagement through Heart of Haverhill.

Mr Donno, who presented the devices to the school last week, said: “I wanted to do something to support my old school and also help young people going forward.

“They are our future but not everyone has the same privilege when it comes to computers and access to technology.

“I am delighted we have been able to help students in and around Haverhill and I want to thank everyone who supported the campaign.”