Ensuring Access To Remote Learning For All

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Can we really afford 9 per cent of households to remain unable to access remote learning?

The education system in the UK has been through something we would never expect in the last 14 months. All our teachers have done an excellent job in moving teaching online and working to ensure students can access an education… 

The new Children’s Commissioner said that “9% of UK households still do not have a laptop” or broadband connection at home. In 2016, CentrePiece wrote that “it seems doubtful that having superfast broadband at home will raise young people’s educational attainment.”

Fast-forward 5 years amidst a global pandemic and it appears that at all levels, we were not prepared.

In October 2020, the government made it a legal requirement for schools to provide ‘remote education’ during COVID-19, yet pupils who still do not have wifi, a monthly broadband connection or a laptop at home are still being left behind. These digitally excluded students will be unable to study with the same advantages as their peers.

The link between poverty and digital exclusion is clear.

Per cent of UK households with internet access

  • 51% of households earning between £6000-10,000
  • 99% of households with an income of over £40,001

Per cent of students achieved grades 9-5 in GCSE English and Maths (2019)

  • 25% of students who have been eligible for free school meals
  • 50% of all other pupils.

So what does this tell us?

Students who don’t have regular access to the internet can underperform when compared to peers who do. Data shows that there is half a GCSE grade; this can often be the difference between a pupil securing the grade they need to access further education. 

It means the education system need to be agile, quick to respond and able to take immediate action. 

We also know the issue is not new. If only the government has acted on the excellent recommendations by BECTA (2008). The digital divide was evident before the pandemic and with more and more of the education being moved online, the digital divide will impact those who need help the most.

So what can we do to help?

Kajeet SmartSpot We all agree that school-age teaching methods have had to change over the past 12 months, yet there are a few more steps a school can take to ensure student equality.

For school and college leaders, supporting the future of education means making the right choices with what budgets there are available. 

Whilst providing all students with connectivity, the education system must also ensure that students are safe.

Kajeet’s SmartSpot ensures the solutions you select has a filtering system as well as unlimited connectivity (included with the device) to ensure a duty of care.  

Here are 5 essential steps all schools can take:

  1. Ensure there are procedures in place when a teacher discovers a student does not have access to remote learning
  2. Review your IT inventory to ensure it meets the needs of your most vulnerable students. 
  3. Share the strategic plan with all stakeholders. 
  4. The plan needs to be easy, streamlined and quick to activate. 
  5. Create an annual technology budget to ensure these students get the help they need!

Schools throughout the UK can eliminate the digital divide for their students and help reduce the effects of the pandemic before it reaches more students and schools.

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