26 Jan 2008

Innovative financing from Siemens means every child in the UK can have a laptop for £5 per week

Innovative financing from Siemens means every child in the UK can have a laptop for £5 per week

United Kingdom, 2006-Feb-24

Siemens Financial Services, a leading provider of innovative asset finance, is financing an innovative “Cost Neutral” procurement process, called ’Access 4 Students’ which will help schools bridge the digital divide.

The initiative, managed by Wyse Leasing (Wyse) and in partnership with the e-Learning Foundation, enables schools, with the financial support of parents, to provide their pu-pils with a fully insured, fully compatible, top of the range laptop which will be replaced every three years, for as little as £5 per week

The e-Learning Foundation, established in 2001, aims to reduce the effect of the digital divide. This is achieved through working with schools, parents and other stakeholders to ensure that all children have access to the learning resources that technology can make available, when and where they need them, both at home and at school.

The results are impressive - in 2004 the average secondary school with an e-Learning Foundation project had 300 laptops compared to the national average of 54. Unfortunately, despite the availability of significant incentives and grants, take-up has been lim-ited to about 120 schools. This is where Wyse and Siemens come in.

Valerie Thompson, Chief Executive, e-Learning Foundation, said: “Over 25% of school children in the UK, some two million, do not have access to a computer and the Internet at home, an issue which has been termed the “digital divide”. It is a well known fact that children from better off families are five times more likely to go to University than chil-dren from low-income families, and the introduction of computers is making that gap even wider because better off families can provide a computer and Broadband Internet access at home. It is our firm belief that the Access 4 Students programme will help increase take up of our scheme and help bring about the end of this digital divide.“

Stephen Bassett, Chief Executive, Wyse Leasing, said: “Our programme provides a step-by-step guide to help schools deliver the right message to teaching staff, parents and the students themselves, whilst providing competitive and inventive rental solutions to meet any requirement. Once we are able to explain the cost neutral aspect of our approach schools, teachers and parents alike become incredibly interested and we’re already experiencing a significant amount of demand in time for the new school year.“

Rob Tonna-Barthet, Director, Siemens Financial Services, said: “We’re delighted to be able to provide the finance behind this extremely worthwhile endeavour which will maxi-mise the learning potential of our next generation and foster the development of future talent. I’m also pleased that we are able to support UK schools in this way as well as a major government initiative.“

About the e-Learning Foundation

The e-Learning Foundation, established in 2001, aims to reduce the effect of the "digital divide" by work-ing with schools, parents and other stakeholders to ensure that all children have access to the learning resources that technology can make available, when and where they need them, both at home and at school.

The Foundation performs three main tasks:

  • Provides a free advisory and support service to help schools develop the most appropriate strategy to achieve high levels of home ICT access
  • Acts as a fundraiser and grant provider to help schools develop their own sustainable sources of in-come
  • Actively campaigns at Government level to keep the Digital Divide at the forefront of public consciousness.

Isn’t it better for parents to buy a computer for home?

  • A school laptop can be used from dusk to dawn while a home computer will lie idle during the day.
  • To use ICT in a specific subject then the teacher needs enough computers for each child in a class. If the computers are at home then nothing changes in the classroom and many of the benefits are lost.
  • The investment is worth twice to the school what it can buy if parents were to go to a computer retailer direct. If parents pay tax, the charity can claim 28% Gift Aid and the school can use that money to buy at far better prices than any individual could.
  • On top of the price of the computer, parents would also have to budget for insurance, mainte-nance and technical support, a warranty, software, virus protection and ultimately replacement. The school would pay for this if parents donate the money they would have spent, to the charity instead – and the cost is spread over three years instead of upfront.
  • Parents who pay the higher rate of tax can also generate personal tax relief on their donation.

How do schools get involved?

Any school can take part in the programme, which is non-prescriptive as each school’s circumstances are different. However, some common principles apply if a school wishes to benefit from affiliation to the e-Learning Foundation network and therefore be eligible to apply for grant funding.

1. Equity of access: To tackle the Digital Divide, e-learning programmes must ensure that every child has the same access, regardless of parental donation. Where funds do not allow a school to provide a computer for every child, then a pool of devices can still be acquired, allowing the school to loan the equipment out at night, weekends and holidays.

2. Sustainability of Funding: The e-Learning Foundation approach makes sustainability a viable proposition. It normally engages parents over a three year period, with donations varying from £3-£6 a week depending on local circumstances. This is a significant learning partnership with par-ents; anything less will simply not generate the step change in access needed.

3. Home use: The focus of the e-Learning Foundation is helping schools extend access to ICT be-yond the school days and the school gate. The hardware is just one component in a bigger and more complex e-learning environment; which in turn is an essential ingredient in the new and de-veloping personalised learning agenda. Schools have a key role to play in developing effective home-school links so that students can continue to benefit from school based support and re-sources when working at home.

Why can’t the Government pay for them?

All schools receive funding for ICT but a lot of the money is currently being spent on upgrading existing systems, replacing old computers, installing wireless networks so that students can use portable com-puters across the school, putting in Broadband (high speed) connections and developing online learning resources that student and parents can access from home. So finding the extra funds to provide every student with their own laptop that they can use during the day and also take home is beyond the budget of most schools!

How does the process work?

Wyse Leasing’s A4S programme provides a step-by-step guide to help schools deliver the right message to teaching staff, parents and the students themselves.

With the equality of access approach every child within a chosen group has to have the same level of access. Whilst every parent may not be able to give the full amount, as each contribution is a charitable donation the e-Learning Foundation is able to make up each £1 contribution with a further 28p due to Gift Aid. In addition schools generally are also able to make a contribution through existing fundraising, rela-tionships with local businesses or existing funds.

Parents normally agree to make donations to the e-Learning Foundation by Direct Debit. The Foundation then adds an element of the Gift Aid and pays the school a quarterly grant. The School then makes up any agreed shortfall and pays Siemens Financial Services for the rental payments, as it is Siemens who legally owns the laptops.

About Wyse Leasing

Since its incorporation in 1989, Wyse Leasing has grown to be one of the UK's largest independent com-puter leasing companies, employing in excess of 60 people working out of four regional locations.

The company is proud to have in that time, signed up in excess of 20,000 finance agreements and presently has 12,000 live end user customers, introduced from many of the best-known and prestigious ven-dors and manufacturers in the UK. Our success is achieved by focusing on our clear belief of offering competitive rates and providing a high quality of service.

For more information, please visit www.wyseleasing.com

About Siemens Financial Services

Siemens Financial Services is a leading provider of funding solutions in the UK. With its headquarters in Harrow, Middlesex, the company has 255 employees in the UK. Siemens Financial Services offers a wide range of financing products and services to help customers acquire the capital assets needed to develop and grow their businesses. Financial solutions are provided direct to business equip-ment users or via flexible vendor or point of sale finance programmes to equipment suppliers and manufacturers.

Siemens Financial Services has expertise in funding business solutions in a wide variety of sectors including; education, information technology, telecommunications, digital imaging technology, vending, healthcare and legal, dental and accountancy professions. Siemens Financial Services also provides financial arrangements for large corporate businesses across all sectors in the UK. Facilities are unique to each market and tailored to meet each customer’s individual needs. Financing options cover large through to small assets.

Siemens Financial Services is part of the Siemens Financial Services Group based in Munich. With some 1,500 employees and an international network of financial companies, the Siemens Financial Services Group offers a broad range of financial services. This covers everything from sales and investment financing to treasury services, fund management and insurance brokerage.

For more information, please visit www.siemens.co.uk/financialservices.

About Siemens in the UK

Siemens was established in the United Kingdom 162 years ago. The company employs 21,122 people in the UK, including about 5,000 in the manufacturing sector. Last year’s revenues were £3 billion, including exports of £500 million.

Siemens provides innovative, high-quality services and solutions to customers in a diverse range of industry sectors, including power, automation and control, information and communication, medical, transportation, lighting, and household.

Siemens has offices and factories throughout the UK, with its headquarters in Bracknell, Berkshire. The company’s global headquarters is in Munich, Germany.

Mr. Andy Brown
Siemens Financial Services

Further information

Tel: 020 8233 4046

Ms. Cathy May
Mayflower PR

Tel: 020 7434 2090

Mr. Rob De Main
Wyse Leasing

Tel: 01327 301099

Mr. Jan Howells
e-Learning Foundation

Tel: 020 8233 4046

Tel: 01372 824373

About Siemens