One school still short of 171 laptops as pressure grows on Williamson

ONE Yorkshire school is short of a further 171 laptops for home learning in the lockdown as political pressure grows on Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to act.

A Halifax school is short of 171 laptops for home learning purposes.
A Halifax school is short of 171 laptops for home learning purposes.

The seriousness of the shortage was highlighted by Halifax MP Holly Lynch just a day after Mr Williamson told MPs that the Government has “significantly stepped up” digital support to schools and parents.

However Ms Lynch tweeted that one school in her constituency has told her “that they need another 171 laptops to ensure children from most deprived backgrounds have access to remote learning”.

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She says this is in addition to the 189 devices that the school has received – and is evidence of the number of families needing support.

Holly Lynch is Labour MP for Halifax.

Now the MP has written a joint letter to Mr Williamson with Tim Swift, the leader of Calderdale Council, and Adam Wilkinson, the authority’s lead member for children and young people’s services.

They point out that an estimated 1.78 million children are without access to a “desktop, laptop or tablet” – and that previous Government promises fall “far short of what is required”. They add: “We have been contacted by a number of local schools requesting further IT equipment this week if we are to make remote learning viable.

“Pupils without an IT device will already have been behind others in terms of their learning before the pandemic, and this crisis is widening the attainment gap significantly.”

In Parliament, Robert Halfon – chair of the cross-party Education Select Committee – warned that “there will still be possibly hundreds of thousands of people on the wrong side of the digital divide”.

Gavin Williamson is the Education Secretary.

But Mr Williamson defended his department’s response. “We have purchased more than one million laptops and tablets and have already delivered more than 560,000 of them to schools and local authorities,” he told MPs.

“With an extra 100,000 being distributed this week alone, by the end of next week, we will have delivered three quarters of a million devices.”

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