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Children from some of the most disadvantaged areas of Teesside in the UK can continue to learn during COVID-19 thanks to a donation of laptops from SABIC.

The donation, described as “life-changing”, has seen new laptops delivered to pupils in 18 different households across the area and is estimated to be worth more than £10,000.

Justin Tattersall of St Peter’s Catholic College in South Bank, which took delivery of the laptops, said: “A fifth of our pupils are working on paper-based resources only, so they can’t access Google Classroom in the way we would like them to. That’s more than 100 children and presents a massive challenge.

“They are currently excluded from the opportunities other children have and this [donation] will help us bridge that gap. We’re so grateful that despite facing their own challenging circumstances, as all of us do right now, everyone involved has taken the time to think about other people and really embody the message of loving your neighbour.”

SABIC’s partnership with the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) helped arrange the donation, ensuring equipment was delivered to those in need and allowed the children to continue their education during these unprecedented times by joining online classes and workshops.

NPP is a non-political organisation chaired by former chancellor George Osborne and includes business and civic leaders all working together to try to make the north of England more successful. NPP says children from disadvantaged backgrounds leave school on average 18 months behind non-disadvantaged peers and warns that the school closures caused by COVID-19 will only make this worse.

Daren Smith, SABIC Teesside site director, said: “SABIC knows that it is more important than ever that we come together at this time and help each other. That is why we have been delighted to work with the Northern Powerhouse Partnership to provide the funding for these laptops, knowing they will benefit some of the children in our community that need them most.

“Like many other businesses, supporting our communities is at the core of SABIC's response to help fight the battle against COVID-19. We are proud to have a comprehensive CSR programme in place, from donating SABIC materials and PPE to helping local food banks, protecting the health and mental wellbeing of vulnerable groups or ensuring that children can still learn and access the online resources they need.”

St Peter’s interim headteacher Neil Skerry added: “We are enormously grateful for the generosity of this donation at a time when many of our students and families will be struggling to adapt to the pressures of home learning.

“These students will now have access to the best technological support to enable them to maintain progress alongside their more advantaged peers.”