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Education: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 29th June 2020.

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Photo of Clive Betts Clive Betts Chair, Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, Chair, Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has any plans to assess the effect of differing levels of access to digital technology on pupils' access to education during the school closure period.

Photo of Clive Betts Clive Betts Chair, Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, Chair, Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to address barriers to access to online education for disadvantaged primary school children.

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

The Department is providing over 200,000 laptops and tablets to vulnerable and 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 disadvantaged children in Year 10 do not have internet connections, we are providing 4G wireless routers.

Local authorities and academy trusts are best placed to identify and distribute the laptops and tablets to children and young people who need devices. In May, the Department invited local authorities to order devices for the most vulnerable children first - children with a social worker and care leavers.

Earlier this month, the Department started inviting academy trusts and local authorities to order their devices for disadvantaged year 10 pupils.

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 via the red button, and may choose to draw on the many resources offers which have been made by publishers across the country. The Department’s remote education guidance includes examples of how schools can support pupils without internet access by, for example, providing physical work packs.

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