Mirror

Teachers warn of digital divide making it impossible to teach most deprived kids

Mirror logo Mirror 23/11/2020 01:01:00 Ben Glaze

Schools in the poorest communities need more laptops so pupils can study at home if they are forced to self-isolate, a survey suggests today.

The Teach First charity said schools with children from the wealthiest families were 29% more likely to use donations to pay for digital devices compared with schools with the poorest pupils, where the figure was just 10%.

Some 73% of headteachers do not have enough digital devices and internet access to ensure all self-isolating youngsters can keep learning, according to the poll by the Teacher Tapp app.

Eighty-four-per cent of leaders of schools with the poorest pupils do not have sufficient access to technology for children, compared with two-thirds of schools in more affluent communities.

Teach First chief executive Russell Hobby said: "This is a stark reminder of the significant challenges faced by schools serving disadvantaged communities.

"It's not right that some children will fall further behind at school simply because their families can't afford laptops and internet access.

a person sitting at a table using a laptop computer: Pupils need better access to laptops © Belga/AFP via Getty ImagesPupils need better access to laptops

"All schools are doing their best in a challenging environment, yet the choices they face to make ends meet are deeply worrying - particularly if they have to cut vital areas of education to keep up with this urgent problem."

Some schools are having to strip cash from other pots to fund the shortfall.

One in four schools with the poorest kids are using their reserve budgets, compared with just one in 20 private schools.

Two in five schools with the poorest pupils are using their pupil premium.

Some 23% of schools with the poorest pupils will have to cut spending on school trips to pay for devices and internet, compared with 12% of schools with children from the most affluent backgrounds.

A fifth of state schools 21% will slash spending on textbooks and libraries.

a man standing in front of a table: Pupils have been left without access to lessons - raising pressure on parents, pupils and teachers © Rex FeaturesPupils have been left without access to lessons - raising pressure on parents, pupils and teachers

Kathryn Hobbs, headteacher of David Nieper Academy in Alfreton, Derbs, said: "The scale of online device needs that this pandemic has brought is enormous.

"At our school we soon learnt pupils were using smartphones to complete homework rather than accessing the school's online work platform on a suitable device.

"When it comes to schoolwork, a smartphone just isn't sufficient - but the hard truth is that some families simply can't afford the most appropriate IT equipment.

"For schools to continue to support all of their pupils throughout this pandemic, we need more access to IT devices, but looking into our budget there's not enough money to meet the need."

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "The department has purchased over 340,000 laptops this term alone to support disadvantaged children.

"By Christmas, this will be an injection of over half a million since the pandemic hit.

"This is part of over £195million invested to support remote education and access to online social care, which includes 220,000 laptops and tablets and over 50,000, 4G wireless routers already delivered to children over the summer term.

"At its peak, 27,000 laptops were delivered in a single day."

She added: "We are entirely committed to ensuring as many disadvantaged children as possible benefit from receiving a device this term, and ensuring no pupil, no matter their background, loses out on an outstanding education."

23. marraskuuta 2020 3:01:00 Categories: Mirror

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