Britain’s poorest children should get £700 each for one-on-one tuition while schools are out, Education Sec told


More than 50 MPs have penned an open letter to Gavin Williamson demanding intervention to stop poverty-stricken pupils falling behind.

Many children don’t have access to a computer and will fall behind at school

MPs have warned the school shutdown will widen the education gap between north and south and more needs to be done to help students keep up with their education, according to Sky News. 

Two thirds of secondary schools teaching the most disadvantaged communities are in the north of England, according to new figures.

The MPs say in their letter: “The most disadvantaged children fall behind their peers over a long summer holiday, and the shutdown will widen the north’s disadvantage gap and with it the north-south education divide.”

They propose a “catch-up premium” of atleast £300million – or £700 for each pupil on free school meals – to pay for 30 minutes of private tuition three times a week for 12 weeks.

According to research by The Sutton Trust, private school children are twice as likely to take part in online school tuition.

Many private schools have kept the structure of a regular day in the classroom, while over-stretched state schools struggle to get kids online.

Only 23 per cent of teachers  in the most deprived state schools had an online learning platform readily available to use for home-learning.

For state schools in affluent areas, that rises to 37 per cent, compared to 60 per cent at private schools.

Mr Williamson has said there are no plans for schools to stay open during the summer holidays to help pupils catch up on lost time.

Some schools have remained open for children of key workers and the most vulnerable, but less than 2 per cent of students are turning up.

In some schools, headteachers say up to 40 per cent of pupils live in a home without a computer, while others have only one device to be shared between siblings and parents.

Mr Williamson announced last week the Government would provide laptops and internet access to the most vulnerable children – including those who have a social worker, or are disadvantaged and set to take their GCSEs next year.

He did not, however, give a date when this would be done by.

MPs who signed the letter include Lord Jim O’Neill, who served as a Treasury minister under David Cameron, and some newly elected Tories in northern seats.

They referred to research from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership showing pupils in the north are most likely to be from the deprived economic and ethnic groups who already make the slowest progress at secondary schools.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We will do everything possible to make sure no child, whatever their background, falls behind as a result of coronavirus.

“The government has already committed over £100m to support remote education, including providing devices and internet access to those children who need it most.

“Schools are also continuing to receive additional funding in the form of the pupil premium – worth around £2.4bn annually – to help them support their disadvantaged pupils.

“The department is considering, with a range of partner organisations, how best to support all pupils to make up for time out of school.”




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