A report released yesterday (August 10) reveals that almost half of teachers charged with looking after some of the country’s poorest pupils lack adequate technology to teach from home.
The report, from the Digital Poverty Alliance (DPA) and Dixons Carphone, was published on the same day that A-level results underlined a growing disparity of achievement between the state and independent school sectors.
When teachers working in schools with a high level of children from low-income backgrounds were asked to rate their domestic internet setup, only 53% of the 700 respondents said it was fully suitable for home working.
Among those with inadequate provision:
- 24% had internet access, but no suitable device on which to work
- 16% had reliable internet, but were required to share their suitable device with others in their household
- 7% said their internet connection did not have adequate data
Extrapolating the figures across the country, the report’s authors estimate that between 250,000 and 295,000 teachers lack suitable means to deliver remote teaching from home.
“These shocking results expose the difficulties faced by teachers in fulfilling their responsibilities due to a lack of essential digital access,” said Paul Finnis, CEO of the DPA. “As a result, many will have been unable to help their students prepare for this year’s exams to their full potential.
“Urgent focus is needed to support not just disadvantaged children, but also those tasked with their education” – Paul Finnis, Digital Poverty Alliance
“This pandemic has revealed the staggering disadvantages facing many teachers, as well as their pupils,” he added. “The UK is facing not just a legacy of lost learning that children have had to cope with during lockdown, but also the lost opportunities for supporting their learning and their lives at home by providing the access they needed to the digital world over the past year.
“We cannot close the country’s educational attainment gap unless the government also addresses and levels up digital inequality. Urgent focus is needed to support not just disadvantaged children, but also those tasked with their education.”
According to Ofcom research from April 2021, around 1.5m UK homes still have no internet access.
And in February, a report by by YouGov revealed the extent to which parental means impacted a child’s ability to learn during the pandemic, with more than half of households having had to purchase new technology to support home learning.
In the same study, one in four parents said that their child’s education had been negatively impacted by poor internet connection.
With remote learning likely to continue in some capacity for many schools, and a daily fact of life for ill or excluded children, the DPA is calling for greater public investment and strategic planning in digital inclusion.
“Without a clear and co-ordinated national strategy to drive digital inclusion, which considers the needs of people and their support networks, the UK cannot hope to deliver a long-term robust recovery plan from the coronavirus pandemic,” said Lord Jim Knight, chair of the DPA board.
“Teachers must be equipped to provide equality of education to all to build the skills of the next generation.”