Commenting on the Pupil Engagement in Remote Learning report published today by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
"There isn't a school leader in the country who isn't deeply worried about the outlook for their disadvantaged students and what additional issues their families may face because of Covid-19.
"We simply haven't seen from Government the bold steps or empathy in response to the disadvantage and harm caused by the disruption from this pandemic. The NFER report shows that a quarter of pupils have limited access to IT at home. Gavin Williamson confirmed in the Commons last week that only around half of requests for the Government’s free laptop scheme for disadvantaged students have so far been met. This needs to be seriously addressed. Children and young people living in low income families must be given the resources they need to learn at home including books, creative resources and access to technology.
"To cope with the huge issues and problems that have arisen from the pandemic we urgently need to see a National Education Plan in place. The NEU has written to Government with our 10 point plan for education which includes ensuring disadvantaged children and their families to be made a key priority, free school meals to be continued over the summer and for local authorities to be funded to provide summer holiday clubs."
National Education Recovery Plan proposals, 11 June 2020: https://neu.org.uk/press-releases/coronavirus-national-education-recovery-plan
Mary Bousted, "Time for a government U-turn over the UK's shocking child poverty levels", Guardian, 23 May 2020: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/may/23/time-for-a-government-u-turn-over-the-uks-shocking-child-poverty-levels