Mail Force praised as head teacher begs business 'to do your bit'

Mail Force praised as head teacher begs business ‘to do your bit’ and back laptops for lockdown children drive

  • Head teacher Jon Barr asked firms to help pupils beat hurdles to online learning
  • Co-head of St Barnabas CE Primary in Bristol presided response to the pandemic
  • His school was named Covid-19 Response Champions at the BETT 2021 awards  

Businesses should do their bit by buying laptops and donating old models to Mail Force, a leading head teacher said yesterday.

Backing the Daily Mail’s Computers for Kids campaign, Jon Barr called on firms to help pupils beat hurdles to online learning.

‘We need to end this digital divide – and it will take a community spirit to bridge that gap throughout the pandemic and beyond,’ he said.

‘I cannot praise what Mail Force has done highly enough, it has made an incredible difference to children’s lives.’

Mr Barr, who is co-head of St Barnabas CE Primary in Bristol, has presided over an award-winning response to the pandemic. 

Teacher Suzzie Torkornoo (left) and co-head Jon Barr (right) with pupils at St Barnabas CE Primary in Bristol

His school saw off others including Eton College to be named Covid-19 Response Champions at the BETT 2021 awards – dubbed the ‘education Oscars’.

He credits the success in part to the generosity of a global firm that donated laptops following an IT upgrade.

Epic – a healthcare software brand with offices on five continents – provided enough laptops for two thirds of his pupils. 

Mr Barr said: ‘For us, it was about getting out into the community and finding a company which was upgrading their laptops. They may have been a number of years old – but they were more than good enough for us to use.

‘Any company thinking about buying new computers in the future should bring it forward now – and help children.’

Logan McKinstrie, project manager for Epic in Bristol, said the contribution was a perfect opportunity to give something back to the city.

She added: ‘We are new to Bristol and are delighted to have found a way to show our gratitude. We are so proud, and incredibly impressed, by everything Jon and his colleagues have managed to do during the pandemic.

‘It’s great to know we have made a difference somewhere – the whole Bristol team were touched when we saw a video of Jon collecting his award.’

Some of Britain’s leading firms have clamoured to help Mail Force, including Dixons Carphone, Lloyds, Santander, Sainsbury’s, Camelot, Boohoo and The Hut Group.

Mr Barr, who has presided over an award-winning response to the pandemic, called on firms to help pupils beat hurdles to online learning. (Stock image)

St Barnabas was also lauded for providing weekly learning packs for every child during term time and the Easter holidays last year.

The school also ran a foodbank that fed 20 to 30 families a week and ensured that families eligible for free meals got supermarket vouchers.

Another head teacher yesterday thanked Mail Force for a delivery of laptops for his pupils. Loz Wilson said Cottingham High School had 950 children working from home and ‘nowhere near’ enough computers to go round.

While some have access to a family laptop, many others have no way of following the 25 hours of work a week set by the school near Hull.

More than 250 have the added disadvantage of having to prepare for exams.

Harvey McClune, 15, was one of the first to be given a Mail Force computer and said: ‘It’s terrific – really amazing.

‘It is very fast. It means I can get on with my lessons so much easier.

‘I would really like to say a really big thank you to all the Mail readers.’

Mr Wilson said: ‘Since the first lockdown, more students and more parents are working from home and sharing equipment and internet access.

‘There is often just not enough to go around, particularly if there is more than one child and more than one parent sharing.’

The Computers for Kids campaign has raised at incredible £7million so far with 25,000 readers donating.



TO YOU, THE READER: How to send us donations 

The Daily Mail has launched a brand new campaign, Computers For Kids, to raise money for Mail Force – a charity which aims to provide much needed school equipment and resources for pupils across the UK learning from home.

With schools closed, we are left with the dilemma of hundreds of thousands of pupils in the UK having no access to a computer in their home.

As part of this campaign, companies are donating their old laptops which, for around £15, can be wiped, professionally refurbished and made safe and fit for home schooling. They can then be delivered to a child or young person who needs one.

In addition, the campaign is looking to support children’s needs in other ways such as funding brand new laptops and tablets, and assisting with data access and connectivity for online learning. Any surplus funds will be used to support of the work of UK schools via other means.


Visit and follow the steps to complete your donation. 

Please don’t send us your old device.


To donate £10 – text KIDS10 to 70115

To donate £20 – text KIDS20 to 70115 

TO COMPANIES: Could you give your old laptops?

Upgrading office computers is something all companies do from time to time – and there has never been a better time to donate old laptops. If you are a company with 50 laptops or more that you could give, please visit to check they are suitable and register your donation. We will arrange for collection by our specialist partners Computacenter. Please note: we cannot accept donated laptops from individuals.


TO SCHOOLS: Where to apply for the computers

Schools must apply to the Department for Education, which is managing the demand and prioritising the schools most in need. The Mail Force initiative means more laptops will become available more quickly.


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