East London council calls on government to speed up distribution of laptops to disadvantaged children during lockdown
Senior councillors in Barking and Dagenham have voiced their frustrations at the government’s inability to provide disadvantaged children in the borough with laptops to help with schoolwork during the lockdown.
In a letter to the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson MP, Council Leader, Councillor Darren Rodwell and Councillor Evelyn Carpenter, the council’s Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and School Improvement, wrote:
“The long-term impact of Covid-19 threatens to cast a long shadow on our children’s future unless we address the inequalities to which it gives rise.
We welcome the work of charities like School Home Support, who have been working with low income families and those with vulnerable children, to improve access to technology. We are also grateful for donations from other charities and tech companies. But it should not fall on the voluntary or private sector to make up for what the government should have provided
“Many of our families are without access to computers or IT and have spent the last three months without any access to any online support. Some of our children have resorted to doing homework on their parent’s smart phones. Our schools have done their best by providing paper copies of work. This cannot be allowed to continue.
“Many families are deeply frustrated with the continued lack of support. We are left with no choice but to ask you to speed up the process of providing the funding we need.”
Barking and Dagenham is one of the poorest boroughs in the country with some of the lowest incomes, highest unemployment, and the most significant levels of health deprivation in London. Despite a decade of reduced funding, 9 out of 10 of our schools are Good or Outstanding according to Ofsted.
Cllr Carpenter said: “We welcome the work of charities like School Home Support, who have been working with low income families and those with vulnerable children, to improve access to technology. We are also grateful for donations from other charities and tech companies. But it should not fall on the voluntary or private sector to make up for what the government should have provided.
“Since schools were closed in March, our teachers, parents, and pupils have made extraordinary strides in adapting to the new realities of education. But we cannot ignore the plight of these families or the ongoing impact on these children of going without access to learning resources they need and deserve.
“Our council, schools and parents care passionately about the future of these children. It is time for the government to step up and show their commitment, too.”