Covid-19: Educational Settings

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:22 pm on 6th January 2021.

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Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Chair, Education Committee, Chair, Education Committee 1:22 pm, 6th January 2021

I strongly welcome the Government’s laptop scheme, but we know that there will still be possibly hundreds of thousands of people on the wrong side of the digital divide. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that those students who just do not have an internet connection or computers at home will be able to go to school alongside children of critical workers? Will he also confirm that any centre-assessed grade system will not only maintain standards but provide a level playing field for disadvantaged children and have a fair appeals process? Will he ensure that there are independent assessors—perhaps retired teachers or Ofsted inspectors—to provide a check and balance for each assessed grade awarded?

Finally, I welcome what my right hon. Friend has said about wanting to open schools again, and I know that he believes that strongly. Will he do everything possible to ensure that teachers and support staff are given priority for vaccination alongside NHS workers, so that we can get our schools open again sooner rather than later?