To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what representations he has received from (a) children’s charities and (b) schools on the effect on learning of a lack of access to school online classrooms during the covid-19 outbreak.
It is up to each school to determine how to deliver education to its pupils and we recognise that many schools have been regularly sharing resources with pupils. This could be in the form of online learning as well as high quality printed resources where needed.
The Government has committed over £100 million to support vulnerable and disadvantaged children in England to access remote education, including by providing laptops, tablets and 4G routers.
The Department has also partnered with BT to give 10,000 young people free access to BT WiFi hotspots, who do not have access to good internet by other means.
We are 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 or are a care leaver. Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and disadvantaged children in Year 10 do not have internet connections, we are providing 4G routers.
We are committed to ensuring that all children can continue to learn remotely in a number of ways during these very difficult circumstances, and are supporting sector-led initiatives such as the Oak National Academy. This brand-new enterprise has been created by 40 teachers from schools across England. It will provide 180 video lessons for free each week, across a broad range of subjects, for every year group from reception through to Year 10. By 24 May, over 2.3 million users had visited the Oak Academy site and over 10.7 million lessons had been accessed.
Schools can also utilise the many resources 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 learn at home.
Schools and families will also 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.