DigiLocal welcomes Sharon Foster JP as new Patron

Sharon is passionate about opportunities for education for children and young people. She has been a school governor and she is also a Trustee of Beira Mozambique Trust, a project of the Southern African Resources Centre.

DigiLocal exists to support marginalised young people in discovering and developing their digital talents. We support communities in hosting free coding clubs for their young people, and provide repurposed laptops for home access to educational online resources.

We are both working to give young people the confidence and opportunities to realise their potential.

In a meeting just after her appointment as High Sheriff of Bristol, we discussed her ambition to focus on young people suspended or excluded from formal education within Bristol. DigiLocal has worked with many of the agencies in place to support young people since we launched in 2015, both supporting community based clubs and through provision of repurposed laptops for home access to online education. There was a lot of connection sharing and idea formulating on how we could work to better support those excluded and suspended young people.

While the absolute number of young people permanently excluded is low, the impact on those young people is undeniably significant. Equally worrying are the large, and rising, number of young people suspended from school for varying periods of time. Once thing the COVID-19 pandemic threw into stark relief was the impact on young people of being excluded from education and social interactions at school.

Bristol is unfortunately well above the national average for suspensions. The data from DfE also indicates that young people from Black African, and / or, those on Free School Meals are disproportionately represented in the suspensions. DigiLocal doesn’t filter attendance by ethnic or social economic background but both identified groups are ones that our clubs are very familiar with.

DigiLocal will be working with Sharon and other partners to try and provide additional educational support for those young people.

We wish Sharon every success as High Sheriff of Bristol and look forward to a long and position partnership for the city region.

The report from CHOPSY, analysing the DfE data for 2021/2022 was used in the above assertions. https://chopsybaby.com/magazine/bristol-school-exclusion-statistics-updated-for-spring-2021-22/ (accessed 18 May 2023, 09:31 UTC+1)