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Passmores Head appalled to find “not receiving laptops they were promised”

Education: Secondary / Sat 24th Oct 2020 at 04:54pm

SCHOOLS in some of the most deprived areas of the country were told on Friday night they would not receive the laptops they were promised to help their poorest and most vulnerable pupils learn remotely reports The Guardian.

Headteachers across England received emails from the Department for Education on the eve of half-term informing them that their allocations of laptops for disadvantaged pupils had been slashed by around 80%.

The blow comes just two days after the government used its Covid-19 emergency powers to impose a new legal duty on schools to provide a remote education to any pupil unable to attend lessons because of the pandemic.

Vic Goddard, a co-principal at Passmores Academy in Harlow, was appalled to discover his original allocation of 129 laptops is going to be reduced to just 26: “We weren’t allocated enough in the first place.”

One in every four students at his school – about 300 pupils – do not have access to a device they can use to learn online at home during local lockdowns or periods when they need to self-isolate, he said, disadvantaging those children further. “It’s unfair on the children and it puts financial pressure on their families, who have all this anxiety that they’re letting their children down.”

Headteachers will now spend the half-term break worrying about how they can fulfil their new legal responsibilities for remote learning without the resources they need to provide their most disadvantaged pupils with an education online. “We are now in a position where we have to offer remote learning within 24 hours of young people being sent home. We are actually breaking the law if we don’t,” said Goddard.

“Headteachers are going away for half-term thinking: ‘How am I going to do this?’ and feeling anxious. It’s inhumane on us.”

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