MPs Call for Better Broadband and Free Devices for Children of Poorer Families

By Gary Cutlack on at

Children in households without decent internet access are missing out on education and are at risk of falling behind classmates, and the answer could well be emergency legislation to give their families free internet connections and the kids one or two pieces of hardware to do their schoolwork on.

The cross-party group of MPs says the list of children children eligible for free school meals – currently standing at around 1.3m – should be used as a basis for providing broadband access and equipment, with the group saying it believes that as many as 700,000 children have completed zero homeschooling hours since the schools were shut due to a lack of connection or devices.

Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh said: "Those children who can't access the same resources as their classmates will find themselves even further behind when they finally return. Some may never catch up. This policy isn't a silver bullet and can't replace months of missed education. But it would make an immediate, tangible difference to families right across our country."

The MPs expect to put a potential bill outlining the changes needed to Parliament this week. Tony Blair's one of the former big political names backing it too, though, so that'll no doubt irritate everyone enough to get it kicked out.

Failing that, BT has had an idea on how to help on the connectivity side at least, and is working with the Department for Education to issue free logins to its public Wi-Fi service, for families in need of assistance with getting online for homeschooling. [Guardian]

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