To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of how digital teaching and learning has been used to increase youth participation in extracurricular activities.
15 March 2021
The government recognises the important role that extra-curricular activities and other out-of-school settings play in providing enriching activities which support children’s physical and mental health, as well as the development of skills and attitudes which promote their wellbeing. That is why we ensured that all before and after-school clubs, holiday clubs, and other out-of-school settings were able continue to stay open for those children that need or rely on these settings most, for the duration of the national lockdown, and why we have extended eligibility of attendance when children returned to school on 8 March 2021.
At present, providers can offer face-to-face provision for all children, where that provision supports certain essential purposes; with vulnerable children and young people able to continue accessing provision under any circumstance. We have updated our protective measures guidance for the sector, which outlines eligibility and aims to support providers to allow them to open for as many children as safely as possible. This guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.
Where children are not eligible to attend face-to-face provision, we have suggested in our guidance that providers move to remote provision where possible. The department does not hold a central register of out-of-school activities providers and is therefore unable to make an assessment of the effect of digital learning on participation in such activities. We do, however, recognise that a lack of digital access may make participating in remote activities challenging, in particular for disadvantaged children and young people. The government is therefore investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. We have also partnered with the UK’s leading mobile operators to provide free data to help 30,000 disadvantaged children and young people in schools, sixth forms and further education institutions to get online as well as delivering over 70,000 4G wireless routers for students without connection at home.