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Education: Internet

Question for Department for Education

UIN 34409, tabled on 24 March 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he is taking steps to ensure that online access to learning is put in place for pupils and students at schools and higher education institutions that have not developed online resources; and if he will make a statement.

Answered on

27 April 2020

The Department is committed to ensuring that children can continue to learn at home in these very difficult circumstances. We recognise that many schools and colleges have already shared resources for children who are at home, and we are grateful for this.

The higher education regulator in England, the Office for Students, has produced guidance on practical ways in which university students can complete their studies whilst ensuring quality and standards are upheld.

The Government is working closely with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education to ensure students continue to leave university with qualifications that have real value, reflect their hard work and allow people to progress.

The Department has issued guidance for schools which signposts to an initial list of free online resources identified by educational experts and teachers. Many other suppliers have also helpfully made their resources available for free. The guidance is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources.

The Department has also issued information, guidance and support to parents and carers of children who at home, which is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/supporting-your-childrens-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

Leading state schools have collaborated to open The Oak National Academy, which was launched online on 20 April. This new initiative is led by 40 teachers who have assembled video lessons and resources for any teacher in the country to make use of if they wish to do so. 180 video lessons will be provided each week, across a broad range of subjects, for every year group from Reception through to Year 10. Additionally, the BBC has developed resources for families as part of a comprehensive new education package, which is now available on TV and online.

Devices will be ordered for the most disadvantaged children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for examinations in Year 10, for those who receive support from a social worker, and for care leavers.

Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and children in Year 10 do not have internet connections, we are working to provide 4G connectivity to them so that they can study at home.

Local authorities, trusts and other relevant organisations overseeing schools have been given guidance on how to place online orders for Government-funded and allocated devices for eligible children and young people.

The Department is also working with major telecommunications providers to exempt certain educational resources from data charges, so that this does not add to household expense.