Coronavirus: MP warns over vulnerable children tech gap

Emma Hardy calls for more action over pupils living in 'crowded conditions' who cannot access online learning

Catherine Lough

Child working on laptop

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".

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. 

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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