NEARLY half of the disadvantaged school children promised laptops for their education during the lockdown have not received them.
Schools were ordered to close three months ago but have produced online learning since. But only a quarter of the promised equipment had been sent to schools and councils by the end of June.
The Government decided that all schools must reopen in September. But if any school has two confirmed coronavirus cases the whole school would close again.
It also said it has sent out more than three quarters of laptops and wireless modems for the most disadvantaged students to learn at home, but 44 per cent of schools recently surveyed by Channel 4 said their pupils had received nothing.
And of the schools that had received the promised equipment 36 per cent said there had been problems with the laptops and modems.
Just like the virus tests, official figures only record when laptops were sent to councils or schools – not when the children get them.
Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green said the figures were “extremely disappointing.” Adding: “Disadvantaged children have now spent nearly a term without adequate access to education.”
The government pledged to send laptops to the “most vulnerable and most disadvantaged children” without access to IT at home.
Carers and children registered with social services had top priority, followed by disadvantaged pupils in Year 10.
The £100 million scheme was to hand out 230,000 laptops and electronic tablets to schools for children to use for online learning during the Coronavirus lockdown now and in the future.
Education unions complained that number of machines was nowhere near enough. The Association of School and College Leaders representing heads and principles, said the availability of laptops was a “national scandal”, warning they cover a “tiny proportion” of pupils without access to technology and “we need to do better.”
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said on June 9 that he aimed to hand out 230,000 laptops by the end of the month. He told MPs: “We are on schedule to receive all those laptops and get them distributed by the end of the month.”
Yet figures also show only 47,416 wireless routers were delivered or dispatched by June 30.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “We have delivered over 200,000 laptops and tablets for the children who need them most, as promised.
“We also launched a £1 billion Covid catch-up fund to directly tackle the impact of lost teaching time as a result of the pandemic… This will fund a £350 million national tutoring programme for disadvantaged children and young people, and a £650 million universal premium which schools have the flexibility to decide how to spend in the best interests of their pupils.”
Let us hopes such promises are kept.
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