Commenting on Learning in Lockdown, a report from the Sutton Trust, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

"We agree with the Sutton Trust that disadvantaged pupils are going to require significant extra investment because of deepening levels of deprivation. It's really important that schools are given flexibility about how they target it, based on their context. This report highlights the difficulty for families on lower incomes in spending on their children's learning. These figures hammer home how much easier it is to provide learning opportunities in families on higher incomes.

"Education staff are showing real creativity and a real determination to make remote learning as effective as possible, and to provide as much individual support as is possible with the staff available. Staff are thinking practically about what materials students have at home.

"This study shows teachers are citing a faster roll-out of laptops as the single most helpful intervention for disadvantaged students, and teachers have been saying this since the summer. There is no excuse for why the Government roll-out has been so slow and inefficient.

"It is clear however that the existing divide in terms of food, laptops, home environment and job security is getting worse because of the virus and the Government response needs to be radical and long term. We need a strategy to end child poverty in the UK.

"Parents with lower incomes will not be able to spend additional money on small but essential items such as pens and paper to work from home. Many school budgets already stretched to breaking point will also find replicating the access to resources found in the classroom a significant problem.

"The NEU agrees that schools and colleges need investment on a scale that could ensure no child is left behind after the pandemic." 

ENDS

2021-017-NEU