Tackling the Digital Divide in Schools – South Ribble Borough Council

Posted on 9th February, 2021

Throughout the Covid-19 restrictions, since the new school year began in September 2020, it was clear that when classroom ‘bubbles’ were forced to self-isolate and learn remotely, many children were being left behind in their education. This is due to the digital divide; with many children from less advantaged backgrounds not having access to a device or only having access to an unsuitable device such as a mobile phone. There was also an issue of children having to share one device amongst several children and adults within the home. There are also many households who do not have access to the internet, restricting children’s ability to learn remotely.

Upon the announcement of the third lockdown, and the instruction for all schooling to take place remotely, it was evident that this would disproportionately impact the education of children from poorer backgrounds – the Sutton Trust found that only 26% of working-class children were taking part in 5 hours of lessons per day, compared to 40% of middle-class children. South Ribble Borough Council took the decision to support these children, and consultation began with schools in the poorest wards of the Borough to ascertain what gaps and needs were existing. As predicted, it was reported that many children from disadvantaged backgrounds did not have access to a device and/ or did not have access to the internet, and the DfE schemes alone were not filling the whole gap.

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