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Children: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 4th May 2020.

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Photo of Richard Burgon Richard Burgon Labour, Leeds East

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the number of children who do not have access to a computer or laptop for their school work during the covid-19 lockdown.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The Department has considered the needs of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and will ensure they get the support they need. To make remote education accessible to pupils while schools are closed, the Department is providing laptops and tablets to disadvantaged children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for examinations in Year 10, receiving support from a social worker, including pre-school children, or are a care leaver.

Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and children in Year 10 do not have internet connections, we will be providing 4G internet hotspots so that they can learn at home.

To support householders who face challenges accessing an internet connection, the Government has brokered an agreement with all the major telecoms companies aimed at protecting the most vulnerable, as well as those who may become vulnerable due to COVID-19.

The Government is also working with telecoms companies to exempt educational resources from data charges, supporting families who rely on mobile data.

For those in rural areas or without a connection, schools will be able to draw on support from the BBC which is broadcasting lessons on television. Some of the BBC educational content is offline, via the red button, which disadvantaged pupils without digital devices or connectivity will still be able to access.

Schools may also choose to draw on the many resources offers which have been made by publishers across the country. The Department has published an initial list of high-quality online educational resources, which have been identified by some of the country’s leading educational experts to help pupils to learn at home. The list is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources.

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