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Government failing disadvantaged students by not providing them with equipment for remote learning, teachers warn

by Matt Trinder
Industrial Reporter

DISADVANTAGED students are being let down by the government’s failure to provide enough devices for remote learning, the National Education Union (NEU) said today.

Research by the Sutton Trust has revealed that just 10 per cent of teachers surveyed reported that all their students had adequate devices.

With schools forced to switch to online teaching without notice last week, the union accused Education Secretary Gavin Williamson of not taking his responsibility towards children’s learning seriously.

NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “It is not credible for Boris Johnson or Gavin Williamson to claim that their priority under Covid is to protect the very same disadvantaged students they have so routinely let down.

“Schools have been kept waiting for equipment, with last-minute delays, changes or retractions of the kit they need becoming an alarmingly normalised response.

“It is surely a no-brainer that schools should be compensated for having to plug the gaps, which are entirely due to governmental sloth. Every child must have access to the equipment they need.”

The majority of private-school pupils were found to have useable devices, the Sutton Trust survey found. But 66 per cent of state-school heads have been forced to source their own equipment, the study showed, despite government promises to meet demand since last March’s first coronavirus lockdown.

Sutton Trust founder and chairman Sir Peter Lampl said: “It was clear that the digital divide was going to have a huge impact on poorer pupils [last year].

“[They] have already lost valuable learning, which could damage their chances in life for years to come. It would be a tragedy if we let this happen again.  

“But the picture has barely changed.”


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