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Almost 2,000 laptops to help Norfolk pupils learn from home - but critics say it’s not enough

PUBLISHED: 15:48 16 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:48 16 June 2020

Norfolk pupils are to be given laptops to help with home learning. Pic: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Norfolk pupils are to be given laptops to help with home learning. Pic: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Archant

The first of 1,800 Norfolk pupils are to be given laptops and tablets through a government scheme to help them with home learning while not in school.

John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. Pic: Norfolk County Council.John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

But critics have said the number of laptops available is like “offering a pen to a class of 30 and pretending that everyone will be able to write a note of thanks”.

It comes as a report by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) found head teachers believe around a third of pupils are not engaging with set work.

Laptops and tablets are being provided for disadvantaged families, children and young people who do not have access to them through another source, such as their school.

The county council is following government guidelines and working with schools and specialist providers to identify those eligible.

Mike Smith-Clare. PIc: Archant Library.Mike Smith-Clare. PIc: Archant Library.

The council says all laptops will be delivered in a ‘good to go state’ so they can be used as soon as they are taken out of the box.

John Fisher, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “This government scheme is very welcome as it will help provide vital remote learning support for many of our young people in this difficult time.

“Schools know their children best and will be using these laptops as one way of helping to ensure children have access to learning at home.

“This scheme complements work we already do, via our Virtual School, to provide laptops or necessary devices to care experienced young people between the ages of 16 and 25. During the pandemic we’ve extended our scheme to include all children in care to help support their online learning.”

But Labour’s education spokesman, Mike Smith-Clare said: “While welcoming any access to technology, the number of laptops being provided is like offering a pen to a class of thirty and pretending that everyone will be able to write a note of thanks.

Vulnerable children deserve fully invested opportunities - not a back slapping drop in the ocean gesture.”

Liberal Democrat group leader Steffan Aquarone said: “These laptops are very much welcomed but are long overdue given how many weeks we are into the crisis.

“Why has it taken so long for these laptops to get to those children who need them and what will happen to the lost months of learning?”


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