Campaign to bridge home internet gap

The educational achievements of 700,000 children with no internet access at home will be improved by a new campaign from the e-learning Foundation.

Schools regularly expect pupils to use the internet at home for homework and revision, disadvantaging some of the UK’s poorest children. Now the campaign group Mind the Gap wants to extend access to 100,000 more children in the next 12 months, the Telegraph reports.

The campaign, which is aimed at schools, wants to get every school-age child online at home and is asking for corporate and individual donations to achieve this. Schools in England will be encouraged to use the pupil premium to buy equipment and pay for broadband; any school whose pupils are all online at home will be recognised as ‘digitally inclusive’ by Mind the Gap.

Valerie Thompson, chief executive of the e-learning Foundation, said: “A lack of online access isn’t just holding the children back, it’s holding the school back; until you can guarantee that every child can complete a piece of work on a computer at home, you can’t encourage and embrace technology to its full in school.”

Janet Adamson, headteacher at Griffin Primary School in Hull, leads one of more than forty schools that have already signed up to the scheme; around 50% of her pupils do not have access to the internet at home. “There is a whole raft of things we can do with the internet that can inspire children’s imaginations,” she said. “Inequalities in internet access are not just about revision for national tests, often it’s about preparing for future life.”

Do any of your pupils lack internet access at home and if so how much damage is it doing to their education? Share your views with the Eteach community!

5 thoughts on “Campaign to bridge home internet gap

  1. I work in an area where this is a problem. But a bigger problem is the high number needing food banks! Many parents are on the minimum wage. Until we pay people a living wage, what they are truly worth how can these issues be solved?

  2. What about the parents who DO NOT WANT their c hildren to be on computers at home?
    I have a number of elderly friends for whom their computer is a lifeline – and some middle-aged ones who would not allow one in the house. Yes, I often think what did I do before I could google / ebay / iplayer etc., I find it very convenient to have instant access but I could live without it. I am concerned about the number of official forms and application processes that are now only available over the internet but what right does the government have to force people to use computers at home if this is against their principles?

  3. Totally agree, this issue definitely affects students ability to do well, so affects their future and carer choices. Because I know for a fact students without a computer suffer and can’t do as well. Some begin truanting school due to this matter because they are not able to keep up with their work and want to prevent themselves from getting detention or other forms of punishment. This affects their chances to succeed in life.

  4. As someone who has used the internet for many years at libraries, internet cafes, and offices, but except for one year never owned a computer (which I had to sell the next year to pay my hostel fees), I can certainly understand the hardship that these students are going through! People are constantly expecting me to answer their emails instantly and do work for them instantly and then just don’t understand or empathise when I tell them I can only check my email or research information at the library and it’s only open 9-5 hours Tuesday through Saturday and an hour walk from my place!

    It’s just not reasonable for schools to require that students do homework that needs online research, when 50% or more of the students don’t have readily available internet access! Actually, we had the same issue at the international school I taught at recently in Yangon, Myanmar, where internet access is limited and slow…though it’s a bit of a surprise to find out it’s such a big problem in the U.K., a highly developed country, also. However, today people often forget about libraries, so until this problem is solved, perhaps teachers can assign homework that can be done doing research in the school library or a public library, or give the students more time on assignments, so they have time to get to a library or internet cafe to do their research. The information in books and magazines is often more reliable than the information online anyway…more carefully researched and edited, and the writers are less likely to be writing the information just to sell something! Another suggestion would be to have a computer lab in all schools, with a staff manager and lots of computers, where students could do their computer homework after school maybe from 4 to 7 pm…and also have free transport for students (like a second bus) when the lab closes. I had lots of computer homework when I was a university student back in the 1990s, but didn’t own a computer…however, that was not an issue with a 24-hour computer lab on campus.

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