‘Grim’ Covid stats prompt laptops plea to ‘failing’ DfE

Attendance figures show the DfE hasn’t ‘fully grasped’ the number of laptops needed to cope with disruption, say heads
27th October 2020, 1:40pm

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‘Grim’ Covid stats prompt laptops plea to ‘failing’ DfE

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/grim-covid-stats-prompt-laptops-plea-failing-dfe
Coronavirus: Headteachers Are Urging The Dfe To Give Schools More Laptops After The Latest Attendance Figures Show Covid Cases In The Majority Of Secondary Schools

Headteachers have warned that new figures revealing that the majority of secondaries have students isolating because of Covid-19 in their school show the government has underestimated the number of laptops needed for remote education.

The Association of School and College Leaders’ general secretary, Geoff Barton, said the new attendance figures showed the “grim picture of the increasingly challenging situation facing schools” with attendance falling and Covid infections rising.

The latest data for Thursday 22 October shows that more than a quarter of state schools in England and more than half of secondaries had one or more pupils self-isolating because of potential contact with a confirmed Covid case at school.


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Mr Barton said: “In this turbulent context, it is crucial that schools are able to provide disadvantaged pupils with laptops so they can work from home if they have to self-isolate and do not have access to these devices.”

Coronavirus: Schools plead for more laptops

His plea follow’s Friday’s revelation that the Department for Education is slashing schools’ laptop allocations by 80 per cent despite having just placed a legal duty on schools to deliver immediate remote education to pupils who are unable to attend because of the coronavirus.

Mr Barton said: “It is very clear that the government has completely underestimated the number of laptops that are needed.

“This is evident from the fact that at the end of last week, just as most schools broke up for half-term, the government informed many schools that their allocation of laptops was being drastically reduced in order to prioritise devices for the areas of highest need.

“It is clearly the case that demand is outstripping supply at an alarming rate. Our impression is that the government has never fully grasped the scale of the challenge both in terms of the numbers of devices that are needed and over ensuring that families have the connectivity they require.

“It is very frustrating that progress has been so slow on this front despite the fact that it has been discussed for many months.

“We do recognise that officials have worked hard to source and distribute laptops, but the failing has been the lack of a clear understanding of what is needed together with a target and timescale that would at least have given confidence that the government is on top of the issue.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Over 99 per cent of schools have been open every week since term began and millions of pupils were attending last week, benefitting from time with their friends and teachers.

 “As we would expect, some pupils are self-isolating in line with public health advice, but the average size of those groups is relatively small compared to the total number of pupils on roll.

“Remote education should be provided from the first full school day that a child has to remain at home to ensure they do not fall behind.”

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