Call for teachers to deliver set lockdown contact time

Labour lists demands to ensure equality of education during school closures
6th January 2021, 1:24pm

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Call for teachers to deliver set lockdown contact time

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/call-teachers-deliver-set-lockdown-contact-time
Online Learning

Teachers should commit to a guaranteed minimum contact time with their pupils during lockdown, according to Labour.

Shadow education ministers have written to education secretary Gavin Williamson calling for the government to work with schools and pupils to deliver the guarantee as part of a range of other measures to support online learning while school are closed until February half-term.

The letter also calls for the Department for Education to work to remove online data charges by "zero rating" educational websites to ensure they are not putting up a barrier to learning on poorer families.


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And it points out that more than 1 million pupils are currently being "robbed" of educational opportunities because they still don't have internet devices.

Shadow schools minister Wes Streeting said: "The government has had nine months since the start of the pandemic to tackle the digital divide in children's learning, yet thousands of pupils are still unable to access online education.

"If ministers do not urgently adopt Labour's proposals, the digital divide in access to education risks failing a generation."

The idea of minimum contact time may concern teachers, particularly those who are also parents, who say they may struggle to juggle remote learning with other responsibilities.

 And since schools partially closed on Monday, headteachers have expressed concern there might be problems balancing remote education as more vulnerable and key-worker children are predicted to turn up to school this lockdown.

The demands of the letter include that the government urgently:

  • Provide internet access for every child who needs it, through rapidly expanding the Get Help with Technology programme.
  • Work to remove data charges by "zero rating" educational websites and where possible ensure school digital delivery is exempted from mobile and other data packages, to stop mobile data charges from pricing disadvantaged families out of education.
  • Redeploy officials to help identify and meet technical support needs.
  • Work with schools and pupils to deliver a guarantee of minimum contact time with teachers.

The letter, also signed by shadow digital minister Chi Onwurah, states: "There are still up to 1.22 million children across the UK without access to the devices needed to learn online during this lockdown, robbing them of educational opportunities.

"Further, 7 per cent of households have internet access only through a mobile device so much more must be done to ensure that children can access online learning without data charges."

The DfE says its measures to support online learning have included setting up Oak National Academy which has 10,000 online lessons available and offers a curriculum covering reception to year 11. It says it has purchased more than one million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged young people during this pandemic, supporting schools and students to access remote education.

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