Hundreds of Redbridge children given laptops by government during coronavirus lockdown
PUBLISHED: 17:00 26 August 2020
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Vulnerable children in Redbridge were allocated hundreds of laptops from the government during the coronavirus lockdown, new figures reveal.
The department for education provided 200,000 laptops and tablets to schools between May and July to help children access remote learning while schools were closed, with Redbridge ordering its maximum quota of 653 devices.
But the Children’s Commissioner Office (CCO) for England said the £100million scheme, aimed at care leavers and pupils with social workers, failed to help out an estimated 540,000 children from groups eligible for the scheme.
With nine per cent of families in the UK not having technological devices at home, CCO senior policy analyst Simone Vibert said the “digital divide” created by this has become more apparent during the Covid-19 crisis.
In addition, 237 devices were allocated to disadvantaged Year 10 pupils in Redbridge who were identified due to concerns they would fall behind in preparing for their GCSE examinations.
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But the CCO said this overlooked the needs of disadvantaged children in every other year group, adding that the government’s planned extension of the scheme to years 3-11 may still be “insufficient”.
Redbridge was also allocated 116 4G hotspot devices, and 103 for Year 10 students.
Turn2us, a charity which helps people living in poverty, said digital skills that help children prepare for adult life are more important than ever following the coronavirus lockdown.
Liam Evans, the charity’s campaigns officer, said: “It is crucial that more computers are delivered to children who are living without.
“The government have a moral duty to make sure all kids have an equal opportunity to thrive, and this is core to that.”
A department for education spokesman said: “For disadvantaged children whose education is disrupted in autumn term, we are initially providing an additional 150,000 laptops and tablets to schools, who will be best placed to pass these on to children who need them.
“Children will be returning to school full time in September and we have invested £1billion in a Covid Catch Up Fund which will also provide one-on-one and small group tutoring for disadvantaged pupils.”