Commenting on today’s announcements from Government on the provision of remote education for children who are having to self-isolate, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“Staff in schools are desperate to do their best for pupils and the pandemic makes their roles all the more important. The legal requirement to provide remote education must be backed by government support for what is, by some distance, not business as usual. Today's support package is necessary but not sufficient.
“This Government is once again trying to cut corners over Covid. Schools were crying out for the right support for online learning throughout lockdown, not least for disadvantaged young people who did not have the right IT or wi-fi equipment at home that would have ensured a continuity and parity of learning. Prior to the lockdown, 700,000 children and young people did not have access to a digital device they could complete schoolwork on. Yet despite the Government’s promises to provide laptops to ensure no child would be left behind, less than a third of those eligible received the equipment they needed to learn.
“Now, the Government is creating new barriers for children with its criteria for where schools are not permitted to order equipment, despite the obvious need. Having failed nearly half a million young people by not delivering on their promise, the Government is trying to reframe their own failure by once again shifting the problem onto schools.
“If government facilitates the employment of more teachers - supply teachers and those recently qualified but not yet in work are ready and waiting - then class sizes can be reduced and fewer pupils will be put in situations where they need remote education."
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