School Closures: Support for Pupils — [Dame Angela Eagle in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:05 am on 13th January 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Tracy Brabin Tracy Brabin Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) 10:05 am, 13th January 2021

There is no greater champion of access to tech than my hon. Friend. We are all enormously grateful for the work she has done, the letters she has written and the pressure she has put on the Government, so I thank her for that.

This is absolutely about social mobility. There is a correlation between children being on free school meals and their access to tech. There are more than 62,113 children on free school meals across West Yorkshire, so it is evident that the need is great, but it did not have to be that way. The Education Secretary and his Department knew that this crisis was coming. The Minister will probably point to the mutation, which caught us all by surprise, but another lockdown was predictable and scientists raised the alarm long before the new variant was identified.

Our children need care, but they also need resources. Our families need practical support. Schools need timely, realistic guidelines. We need an Education Secretary who is on top of his brief, but so far we have seen the Government continue to fail the children of Batley and Spen and West Yorkshire, whose futures and destinies depend on their leadership.