SCHOOL pupils in Inverclyde are getting access to laptop computers and online home schooling during the shutdown thanks to a groundbreaking scheme.

Leading Covid-19 relief group Belville Community Garden has set up a project to recondition scores of computers and provide internet access to support struggling families.

They are working with Inverclyde Council education bosses to get the laptops out to the children who need them most.

At the same time Inverclyde Health & Social Care Partnership has also pledged £24,000 to provide 90 laptops to children looked after by the local authority.

Inverclyde Academy is among the first schools to benefit from the drive and say it is making a massive difference to learning.

Laura Reilly, Belville Garden manager, said: "It is so important that all children get equal opportunities to learn.

"We know there are children out there without access to computers and no wifi and we wanted to do something about it.

"We have provided them to secondary schools but we would also like P7s to benefit as well.

"We provide computers and dongles so they have internet access for three months."

Belville plan to send out a total of 180 computers at a cost of £275 each.

So far 30 have been delivered to families, with another 37 on the way right now thanks to support from a series of donors.

They have used funding from the National Lottery, the Wellbeing Fund and other sources including Amazon, Scottish Gas and Port Glasgow Boys' Club who all stepped in to help.

Inverclyde Academy's depute head Susan Chambers said: “The families to have benefited so far are very appreciative.

“It’s making it easier to make the link with pupils and has made a massive difference.”

Education convenor Councillor Jim Clocherty also praised the initiative.

He said: "Not every household has access to a computer or the internet so it’s great to see the council’s education department and the Health & Social Care Partnership working together with Belville Community Garden to source laptops to enhance our young people’s learning during these challenging times.

“These computers will also be a valuable resource for these pupils when they leave school, or to be passed onto fellow students to use during their studies."