How to donate a laptop for homeschooling

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  • With homeschooling back on the agenda for families, experts have warned that children without laptops or suitable digital devices will struggle with school work.

    So how can you donate a laptop for homeschooling to help a child with their education?

    The idea of donating laptops to kids in need is not a new one. However, the scheme – which was originally kicked off by the government along with various broadband discounts for homeschooling during the pandemic – has snowballed since last year. Now, more people than ever are wanting to donate their old laptops.

    Everyone from the BBC to independent organisations, families and businesses are getting involved with supplying laptops to schools, to help disadvantaged children with their homeschooling in lockdown.

    Here’s how you can donate a laptop for homeschooling too:

    How to donate a laptop for homeschooling

    To donate a laptop to a child, you have to go through an organisation, a local council or a school. After contacting the organisation, they’ll go through the steps with you on how to donate. This include details on what to do about privacy and the equipment that the device needs to come with to make it viable for donation.

    The BBC Make a Difference campaign is at the forefront of this and has a list of 26 charities and organisations on their website who are helping to collect laptops. Some only operate in particular parts of England, while others are national charities and will even come and collect the laptop or device from you. Some organisations on the list aren’t just accepting laptops, they’ll also take old phones and tablets to help with homeschooling.

    Girl studying at home with laptop donated for homeschooling

    Credit: Getty

    National organisations collecting laptops for homeschooling:

    There are plenty of other charities and organisation on the BBC’s website that are local to individual areas and will serve local schools in that region.

    London-based charity, Restart, for example are also accepting laptops and have a list of charities for other parts of the UK who are collecting laptops.

    These charities work in addition to the government’s Get Help with Tech scheme. The programme was set up last year and 560,000 devices were given to schools and local councils. In 2021, they pledged to offer another 440,000 devices, bringing the total to more than 1 million. They also expanded the scheme to offer laptops and other devices to 16 to 19 year olds in further education.

    This is the easiest way to donate your old laptop for homeschooling but some councils and schools will also accept direct donations. To go through this process, it’s best to contact the local council or school directly as they’ll be able to offer information on how they’re receiving laptops as part of the programme.

    Anywhere accepting laptops for donation will probably have specifications in place. This means there are only certain types of laptops that you can donate. This is to ensure that they’ll work effectively with new school programs and be helpful to students.

    The laptops will then be used by the children to access important free homeschooling resources and special educational apps to help with homeschooling. They’ll also help carers and parents who are working from home with kids during lockdown, offering the chance for children to learn independently.

    What kind of laptops can you donate?

    To support online learning, laptops have to meet a minimum requirement of functionality. While many of the organisations listed above will have different requirements, depending on how much refurbishment they’ll willing to do on the devices, laptops that have the following are likely to be donated successfully:

    • A working power supply or charger
    • WIFI capability built-in
    • Webcam built-in (as most homeschooling takes place over video)
    • A mimimum of 2GB RAM
    • A minimum of 16GB hard disk
    • Laptops must no older than 2008 with Windows 7 functionality, if they’re not Apply MacBooks or Chromebooks etc.

    Some local councils are not currently accepting laptops or mobile devices but will take laptops.

    boy and dad looking at how to donate laptops for homeschooling

    Credit: Getty

    Is it safe to donate a laptop?

    Local councils and many organisations listed on the BBC’s website will clear any personal information on the laptop. Using specialised programmes, they’ll make sure there’s no personal information on the device before it’s given to schools.

    Norton Security also has detailed information about how you can clear the laptop yourself on their website, if you want to give it a go before donating for extra security.

    Most us do banking and shopping online. We also store our passwords in auto-fill and have logged loads of ‘cookies’ over the years. It’s important to clear this information both for you and for the child receiving the laptop, so that it’s safe and suitable for them to use.

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