Emma Hardy, Labour's shadow further education and higher education minister, has warned that the attainment gap will widen if children living in poverty cannot access online learning during the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to Sky News this morning, the MP for Hull West and Hessle said that schools were seeing far fewer pupils than they had expected, and that "some of the most vulnerable children who the schools would actually like to keep attending are not attending, which is quite concerning".
“It's a huge problem the government hasn’t addressed.”@EmmaHardyMP says vulnerable children in lockdown haven’t got the equipment to do their work online.— Sky News (@SkyNews) April 3, 2020
She fears by the time classes resume they'll be “at even greater disadvantage.”#COVID19: https://t.co/zePOHrM7J6 pic.twitter.com/m79d1nhlbp
She added: "One of the other big concerns in areas where there’s great deprivation and poverty is that the children at home haven’t got the equipment, they haven’t got the connectivity to do their work online.
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"So teachers are having to photocopy worksheets, photocopy books, and physically go round houses posting them through the doors of these different children so they can carry on working, which is completely impractical, and a huge problem that the government hasn’t addressed.
"And my fear is by the time these children return to school that attainment gap, that poverty attainment gap will be much, much, much wider, putting these children at even greater disadvantage.
"When you compare them to kids who go home, they’ve got their Chrome books, they’ve got broadband, they’ve got the content mum and dad have paid for so they can carry on working.
"And at the opposite end of the spectrum you’ve got children living in crowded conditions, no technology, no equipment and very little work to do because the teachers physically can’t get it to them.
The MP has now set up a laptop donation appeal for people to give old laptops and notebooks to schools in Hull.