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To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the ability of (a) refugee and (b) asylum seeker children to access (i) laptops and (ii) the internet during partial school closures during the covid-19 outbreak; and what steps his Department is taking to tackle the disadvantage gap in relation to those children.
The Government has committed over £100 million to support vulnerable and disadvantaged children in England to access remote education and social care services, including by providing laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers.
We are providing laptops and tablets to disadvantaged children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for examinations in year 10, those receiving support from a social worker and care leavers. This includes looked after children, including unaccompanied asylum seeking children. It also includes former unaccompanied asylum seeking children who are now care leavers. Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and children in year 10 do not have internet connections, we are providing 4G wireless routers.
The Department has ordered over 200,000 laptops and tablets and allocated devices to local authorities and academy trusts based on its estimates of the number of eligible children that do not have access to a device. Local authorities and academy trusts are best placed to identify and prioritise children and young people who need devices. This may include children in families who are refugees or who are seeking asylum. The Department is working to provide these devices in the shortest possible timeframe; deliveries to schools and local authorities began in May and have continued throughout June.