I welcome this boost from the Mail and its readers, writes Education Secretary GAVIN WILLIAMSON
The last thing any parent wanted was to see schools closing to most pupils – as they had to at the start of this month.
I’m a parent myself and I completely understand that this will have caused no end of disruption for those of you who are trying to juggle a family and working from home at the same time.
However well parents are managing to support their children while they learn from home, there really is no substitute for them being in school.
I can assure you as soon as Covid infection rates are back under control then we will get them back there as quickly as we can.
The last thing any parent wanted was to see schools closing to most pupils – as they had to at the start of this month, writes Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (pictured)
In the meantime, thanks to our superb teachers, every child can now expect to have high-quality lessons remotely and I’m delighted that the Daily Mail and its generous readers will be helping our remote education programme.
Of course, for this to be successful pupils need the right devices to work from and we are well aware that this is not a given. Not every pupil has a laptop and not every family has internet access.
I want to assure you that we have been working incredibly hard to deliver the necessary tech across the country so that every child – especially those from disadvantaged homes – can keep their learning on track.
We have now delivered an extra 800,000 laptops and tablets on top of the ones schools already had – and nearly 240,000 have gone out in the past couple of weeks.
While I can’t give you a date for when children will be back at their desks, I do want to assure everyone that we are doing everything in our power to make sure that their learning does not suffer. An empty classroom is seen at Westlands Primary School, Staffordshire
Laptops and devices have been in high demand across the world and it has been a massive procurement exercise to get hold of them. In spite of that, we are making sure that 1.3million devices are going to be distributed to children in England who need them.
Our Get Help With Technology programme, which has been distributing laptops, tablets and 4G routers with pre-loaded data since May last year, goes hand-in-hand with the Government’s work with mobile network operators, enabling schools to request free data uplifts for disadvantaged families.
We have also set up a new online ‘one stop shop’ for all schools and colleges to help them keep up to date with the latest information and guidance on remote education as well as tips and advice from teachers and leaders.
Every pupil can now expect to have either recorded or live direct teaching as well as time to complete tasks they’ve been set as they learn from home.
Although teachers know what materials work best for their own lessons, there is also plenty of other material from external providers available for them to use.
Last Easter, for instance, a group of 40 teachers launched the Oak National Academy. This new venture was created in two weeks flat and has gone on to produce thousands of high-quality teacher-led videoed lessons.
These include topics as varied as blues musicianship and an examination of the effects of urban sprawl on local communities. The BBC is also providing a mass of educational content across its channels to support home learning.
And these are just a couple of examples of an immense industry response – from textbook publishers, from digital teaching tools and from training providers – to extend help to schools.
While I can’t give you a date for when children will be back at their desks, I do want to assure everyone that we are doing everything in our power to make sure that their learning does not suffer.
Backed by the support of the Mail and its readers, I have no doubt remote education will continue to go from strength to strength and will help keep our pupils’ learning on track.
Of course, for this to be successful pupils need the right devices to work from and we are well aware that this is not a given. Not every pupil has a laptop and not every family has internet access [File photo]
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