Children: Education

Department for Education written question – answered on 10th June 2020.

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Photo of Luke Evans Luke Evans Conservative, Bosworth

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps he has taken to ensure that vulnerable children are engaging in learning and skills development during the covid-19 outbreak.

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

As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Vulnerable children are encouraged to attend educational provision where it is appropriate for them do so. We want to get all children and young people back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions.

Since 23 March, in line with the scientific advice, nurseries, schools and colleges have remained open to children of critical workers and vulnerable children. From week commencing 1 June 2020, primary schools have been welcoming back children in nursery, Reception, year 1 and Year 6. From 15 June, we are asking secondary schools to offer some face-to-face support to year 10 and year 12 students, and sixth form colleges and further education colleges to do the same for 16 to 19 students who are due to take key exams in 2021. For all providers, this is alongside provision they are already offering to vulnerable children and children of critical workers of all ages.

The Department is committed to ensuring that any children, including vulnerable pupils, who cannot yet return to school continue to learn at home. It is up to each school to determine how to deliver education to its pupils and we recognise that many schools have already shared resources for children who are at home. Our latest guidance on remote education during COVID-19 outbreak is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

The Government has also committed over £100 million to boost remote education. This includes providing devices and internet access for vulnerable children who need it most, ensuring every school that wants it has access to free, expert technical support to get set up on Google for Education or Microsoft’s Office 365 Education, and offering peer support from schools and colleges leading the way with the use of education technology. Provision of internet access, and technical support, will continue to be available to schools during the phased return of children and young people. Devices will be owned by schools and organisations and will benefit children’s education long after schools have opened to all pupils.

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