Wednesday 6 January 2021 / 10:52 AM Chi Onwurah / Digital / Education / Wes Streeting

Labour calls on the Government to adopt plan to get every child online

Labour is calling for the Government to adopt its plan to get every child online and every school supported to deliver digital excellence, as most children will be learning remotely until February half-term.

Labour’s proposals would see mass roll-out of devices and internet access to pupils currently struggling to learn online, alongside steps such as ‘zero-rating’ of educational websites to ensure data charges are not putting barriers on access to education during lockdown.

Shadow Schools Minister Wes Streeting and Shadow Digital Minister Chi Onwurah have written to the Education and Culture Secretaries, warning that disadvantaged families are being priced out of education, and calling on them to: “deliver a plan to get every child online and every school supported to deliver digital excellence.”

To address this digital divide, Labour is calling on the Government to urgently:

  1. Provide access to a device for every child who needs one
  2. Provide internet access for every child who needs it, through rapidly expanding Get Help with Technology programme
  3. Work to remove data charges by “zero-rating” educational websites and where possible ensure school digital delivery is exempted from mobile and other data packages, to stop mobile data charges from pricing disadvantaged families out of education
  4. Redeploy officials to help identify and meet technical support needs
  5. Work with schools and pupils to deliver a guarantee of minimum contact time with teachers

Wes Streeting MP, Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister said:

“The Government has had nine months since the start of the pandemic to tackle the digital divide in children’s learning, yet thousands of pupils are still unable to access online education.

“If Ministers do not urgently adopt Labour’s proposals, the digital divide in access to education risks failing a generation.”

Chi Onwurah MP, Labour’s Shadow Digital Minister said:

“Labour has continually warned about the dangers of the digital divide which risks leaving so many children and young people behind. The Government has yet again failed to deliver on digital provision for those who need it most.”