Children: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 16th September 2020.

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Photo of The Marquess of Lothian The Marquess of Lothian Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of children during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant school closures who (1) had no digital devices in their household, (2) whose only available device was a smartphone, (3) had access to a single device in their household which was shared with more than one other family member, and (4) the total number of children who were unable to access remote education consistently as a result.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The department has already invested over £100 million to support remote education and has delivered over 220,000 laptops and tablets to local authorities and academy trusts for children who would not otherwise have access.

The department allocated devices to local authorities and academy trusts based on its estimates of the number of eligible children that did not have access to a device through other means, such as a private device or through school. Local authorities and academy trusts were responsible for distributing the devices, being best placed to know which children and young people need access to a device delivered through the programme.

Where local authorities and academy trusts identified a need greater than their initial allocation, they could provide evidence and request more devices. No valid request for additional devices for eligible children was denied.

We are now supplementing this support by making an initial 150,000 available additional devices in the event face-to-face schooling is disrupted as a result of local COVID-19 restrictions or local lockdowns, and children become reliant on remote education.

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