Below are some of the most common questions we get asked by parents.
If you have a question that is not listed below please ask us and we will do our best to answer it for you, or direct you to somewhere that should be able to help you.
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Why do our children need their own computer?
Children need to be prepared for an increasingly digital world and this will give them a unique opportunity to be highly skilled. Research has confirmed that children with good home access to technology get better grades.
Schools are expected to provide learning resources on their Learning Platforms, all of which presuppose that every student can work at home, to complete an assignment, access the school’s learning resources, or run through a lesson they missed.
Why can’t the school provide these for nothing?
The school receives some funding for ICT in school, and this gets spent on their network, website, ICT suite, interactive whiteboards, printers, etc. Equipment for use at home and for personal use by your children is over and above this, which is why we have to ask families to make a contribution.
Can’t I go and buy a cheaper computer down the High Street?
Possibly. But this isn’t just about the computer. It’s about a class of children with the same device, ready to help them with their schoolwork. It will be loaded with all the educational software your child needs and will allow your child to access the school’s resources or learning platform. In some cases, the school will also provide facilities for families to come and brush up on their computing skills or even gain recognised qualifications.
Many of the devices are also provided with the help of e-Learning Foundation grants or financial assistance from the school. While you could buy a cheaper computer, you wouldn’t be able to buy the device we are providing for less than the amount we ask you to contribute.
Will my child be safe carrying the computer home?
We all need to be aware of the risks the children could face on their way home but the number of recorded incidents is surprisingly low. All computers are security tagged and protected, but if a child is approached for their computer, they should hand it over without resistance and then inform you so you can let the Police and the school know.
Who owns the computer?
The computers are normally the property of the school while the programme is running. Your contribution is a charitable donation towards the programme, not a payment towards the computer. However, when the programme comes to an end, after two to three years, the school may choose to offer the computers to the families at their market value.
Why doesn’t the school pay for the computers at home?
The school receives some funding for ICT in school, and this gets spent on our network, the website, ICT suites, printers, etc. Equipment for use at home and for personal use by your children is over and above this, which is why we have to ask our families to make a contribution. Without that help the programme would not be able to go ahead.
Does every child in the class get a computer?
Yes, every child in the class gets one, so that the teacher can plan homework knowing that no one is left out. This is different from schemes where some children in a class get a computer and schemes where only the ones who can afford it get one.
What is the Parental Contribution and how much do I need to pay?
The exact donation will be determined by your school and will be set at a level that they believe is very affordable. It is likely to be a monthly donation over 24/36 months as evidence of your commitment to this Programme.
The funding model relies on the existence of Parental Contributions. It is only by demonstrating your commitment to the programme through a sustainable income from parent’s charitable donations, that some of the other funding will be released.
The Birmingham eLearning Foundation will administer the Parental Contributions on behalf of the school through the Charity. (See ‘Why am I Paying my donation to the Birmingham eLearning Foundation?’ below.)
Please note you are making a charitable donation towards the programme, not a payment towards the computer. (*) To make the scheme affordable to all, the amount we are suggesting does not cover the full cost of running the programme. (See ‘Who owns the computers?’ below).
What happens if I can’t make the regular donations?
No child will be excluded from the programme because of their financial circumstances so please come and talk to us so we can ensure your child is included. (*)
It’s important that everyone participates. If you think that the donation is unaffordable for you then let your school know, perhaps you can only manage a smaller amount for a while. If too many parents are unhappy about contributing, we may not be able to get the programme started in your child’s school. This is why we ask you to let the school know if you think this is a good idea and if you would be happy to contribute before the programme is started.
You have the choice not to participate but, once you are clear how the Programme works, we are sure you will want to.
Can I pay by cash or cheque?
Collecting cash involves a lot more work and administration costs for the school so our overwhelming preference is for you to sign a direct debit. However, if this is not possible then the school will be able to make arrangements to make sure you can contribute in a way that works for you and the school.
What happens to the money?
The scheme and the Direct Debits are run by the Birmingham eLearning Foundation, which is a small charity. Once the Birmingham eLearning Foundation has collected your donation every month, and applied for Gift Aid tax relief where applicable, then apart from some costs for banking and collecting the money, they will grant the money back to the school to pay towards the bills associated with running the Programme.
Why am I paying my donation to the Birmingham e-Learning Foundation?
By administering the Parental Contributions to the schools’ fund through the Birmingham eLearning Foundation, it is possible to reclaim a Gift Aid tax allowance. This means that for each £1 contributed, the Charity can collect 28 pence back from HM Revenue & Customs making that £1 contribution equivalent to £1.28. This not only helps to increase the schools’ funds but also helps Be-LF to cover the costs of administering the scheme on behalf of schools. (For more information on Gift Aid see ‘What is Gift Aid?’ and ‘How does Gift Aid Work?’ in the section ‘What we do’ under the heading ‘How is the Programme funded?’) It may be better to provide a link to the appropriate section.
Do I have to sign the Gift Aid declaration?
It is vital that you do this if you are a UK taxpayer; otherwise the cost of administering the collection of monthly donations has to come out of the donations themselves. Gift Aid applies to cash and cheque contributions as well as direct debits so please do sign it if you are a taxpayer. (*)
Remember that each £1 you donate is worth £1.28 to the Charity through Gift Aid. This makes the money go further.
What happens if I change my mind in a few months time?
This would give the school a big problem, as their decision to go ahead and buy the devices for the children will be based on the initial level of support from the parents. Changing your mind halfway through the Programme would compromise the school’s finances. This is a commitment to the children that needs to be seen through.
Please note: schools can use these Qs & As to help in their communications but any text followed by an (*) denotes text that should not be changed as it has implications that would affect the legitimacy of the programme.