Digital Poverty in the UK- Evidence from Data
New research from Teach First reveals the stark ongoing digital divide and long-term consequences of nearly a year of disrupted learning.
Almost three in five parents (59%) in England are worried about how prepared their children are to transition into the next year
6% of parents have a child with no access to device at all for home schoolwork
New research from the education charity Teach First has found that over a third of parents (37%) say they have at least one child with no exclusive use of a device for schoolwork. The research found that 10% of parents say they have at least one child sharing with siblings, 13% sharing with other adults in the household, 11% sharing with both adults and siblings and 6% with no access to a device at all.
The disruption is of significant concern to parents across the country, with the research showing that almost three in five (59%) parents are worried about how prepared their children are to transition into the next academic year. 23% of parents are very worried.
It remains a positive sign of progress that 65% of parents in England say at least one of their children has exclusive use of a device for schoolwork. The government’s distribution of over 920,000 devices since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, together with efforts of charities, businesses and local initiatives, has allowed millions of young people to learn more effectively from home.
However, it remains the case that 6% of parents in England state they have at least one child with no access to a device for schoolwork, while 7% of parents in England have at least one child mainly accessing schoolwork via smartphones.
Of those parents who have at least one child currently attending school from home and who have a device to learn from, 10% said their child received the device in January 2021 — meaning that their child may have spent many months either during the school closures last year, or in many cases self-isolating in the Autumn term, without the ability to adequately study at home.
The research highlights the stark ongoing digital divide and the long-term consequences of nearly a year of disrupted learning. Serious concerns remain about lost learning for all pupils, as well as the widening of the attainment gap, with recent research suggesting that following the first lockdown, there is now a difference of seven months’ learning for both reading and maths between disadvantaged primary school pupils and their richer peers.
While there is a pressing need to ensure every child has adequate access to a device to study from home during the most recent lockdown, we must also be looking at an extensive long-term recovery plan to address lost learning. This is particularly important for pupils and schools in disadvantaged communities whose education has been most severely disrupted by the pandemic.
The Sequoia Platform is working alongside partners in response to the pandemic to distribute devices and dongles to pupils and schools in disadvantaged communities to help bridge the ‘Digital Divide’. We can all play a small part- if you have old devices that meet our specifications, please do donate. We have a number of partners you can support. Please do visit our website and subscribe. Do also look out for our follow-up post for our recommendation list with instructions on how to donate easily.