Education of poorest pupils in England and Wales ‘suffers most during Covid isolation’

Four out of five schools with the poorest pupils in England and Wales do not have enough devices and internet access to ensure all self-isolating pupils can keep learning, according to a leading education charity.

The lack of equipment means schools were having to dip into alternative budgets and that it was the the poorest pupils’ education that suffered during self-isolation, Teach First warned.

A socio-economic divide was also underlined by the finding that schools with the most affluent intakes were nearly three times (29%) more likely to use donations to pay for digital devices compared with schools with the poorest pupils (10%).

The scale of the need for devices to facilitate online learning during the pandemic was “enormous”, said one headteacher, commenting on the survey carried out for Teach First.

“At our school we soon learned pupils were using smartphones to complete homework rather than accessing the school’s online work platform on a suitable device,” added Kathryn Hobbs, the headteacher of David Nieper Academy in Derbyshire.

“When it comes to schoolwork, a smartphone just isn’t sufficient – but the hard truth is that some families simply can’t afford the most appropriate IT equipment. For schools to continue to support all of their pupils throughout this pandemic, we need more access to IT devices, but looking into our budget, there’s not enough money to meet the need.”

The survey – which also found that nearly three in four (73%) school leaders said they do not have enough digital devices and internet access to ensure all self-isolating pupils can keep learning – was based on data collected by Teacher Tapp, a daily survey app that questioned more than 8,000 teachers each day.

Teach First’s chief executive, Russell Hobby, said: “It’s not right that some children will fall further behind at school simply because their families can’t afford laptops and internet access.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said it had purchased more than 340,000 laptops this term to support disadvantaged children. “By Christmas, this will be an injection of over half a million since the pandemic hit,” she added.

This was part of more than £195m invested to support remote education and access to online social care, she said.

“We are entirely committed to ensuring as many disadvantaged children as possible benefit from receiving a device this term, and ensuring no pupil, no matter their background, loses out on an outstanding education.”

Separately, the DfE has asked schools that are not using 4G wireless routers that have been distributed to sign up for a scheme in which they can be handed back and “reallocated” to other pupils.

Schools are being urged to sign up to an online portal to see how much data is being used by each router they’re responsible for.

The details were included on Friday in an update to government guidance, which notes that remote learning equipment given to schools during the summer term was owned by local authorities and academy trusts.

It added that those bodies

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Education of poorest pupils in England and Wales ‘suffers most during Covid isolation’ | Schools

Four out of five schools with the poorest pupils in England and Wales do not have enough devices and internet access to ensure all self-isolating pupils can keep learning, according to a leading education charity.

The lack of equipment means schools were having to dip into alternative budgets and that it was the the poorest pupils’ education that suffered during self-isolation, Teach First warned.

A socio-economic divide was also underlined by the finding that schools with the most affluent intakes were nearly three times (29%) more likely to use donations to pay for digital devices compared with schools with the poorest pupils (10%).

The scale of the need for devices to facilitate online learning during the pandemic was “enormous”, said one headteacher, commenting on the survey carried out for Teach First.

“At our school we soon learned pupils were using smartphones to complete homework rather than accessing the school’s online work platform on a suitable device,” added Kathryn Hobbs, the headteacher of David Nieper Academy in Derbyshire.

“When it comes to schoolwork, a smartphone just isn’t sufficient – but the hard truth is that some families simply can’t afford the most appropriate IT equipment. For schools to continue to support all of their pupils throughout this pandemic, we need more access to IT devices, but looking into our budget, there’s not enough money to meet the need.”

The survey – which also found that nearly three in four (73%) school leaders said they do not have enough digital devices and internet access to ensure all self-isolating pupils can keep learning – was based on data collected by Teacher Tapp, a daily survey app that questioned more than 8,000 teachers each day.

Teach First’s chief executive, Russell Hobby, said: “It’s not right that some children will fall further behind at school simply because their families can’t afford laptops and internet access.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said it had purchased more than 340,000 laptops this term to support disadvantaged children. “By Christmas, this will be an injection of over half a million since the pandemic hit,” she added.

This was part of more than £195m invested to support remote education and access to online social care, she said.

“We are entirely committed to ensuring as many disadvantaged children as possible benefit from receiving a device this term, and ensuring no pupil, no matter their background, loses out on an outstanding education.”

Separately, the DfE has asked schools that are not using 4G wireless routers that have been distributed to sign up for a scheme in which they can be handed back and “reallocated” to other pupils.

Schools are being urged to sign up to an online portal to see how much data is being used by each router they’re responsible for.

The details were included on Friday in an update to government guidance, which notes that remote learning equipment given to schools during the summer term was owned by local authorities and academy trusts.

It added that those bodies

Read more

Jonathan Davies: Wales centre knew of potential career risk after knee injury

Jonathan Davies on what he had to do to get back to playing rugby

Wales centre Jonathan Davies says he knew he was potentially risking his career by playing in the World Cup semi-final defeat against South Africa.

Davies played against the Springboks and New Zealand in the bronze medal match after damaging his knee against Fiji earlier in the tournament.

“I was told if I played the semi-final there was a risk of not finishing my career,” said Davies.

“It was worth the risk. I made that decision… it was something you do.”

Davies had missed the quarter-final win against France and his knee was heavily strapped for the final two matches of Wales’ 2019 campaign.

“It was tough going those last few games… I don’t think it was quite one leg, maybe one and a half!” said the 32-year-old Scarlet.

“I felt capable enough of going out there and giving a performance. It was heavily strapped and I was in pain but the hard work put in by the medical team to get me right to go out and play meant I was able to do that.”

Davies has since endured 11 months on the sidelines following an operation which he also knew could end his career.

“The uncertainty going into the surgery and not knowing what the outcome would be was the hardest thing to deal with,” said Davies.

“Once I knew at the 12-week mark the surgery was a success, it was a relief.

Jonathan Davies in action for Wales against New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup
Jonathan Davies in action for Wales against New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup

“The work I put in during those first 12 weeks to change my diet, that I looked after myself and didn’t do anything I shouldn’t was really important because there was a risk the injury could have ended my career.

“I made sure I did everything possible and thankfully we got a good result. I think that was down to a bit of luck, but a lot of it is also down to the work you put in away from rugby.”

Davies has played 81 times for Wales with two Grand Slams and three Six Nations titles to his name. He has also played six Tests on two British and Irish Lions tours, part of the series success in Australia in 2013 and being named man of the series in the drawn contest in New Zealand four years later.

So he was philosophical about being told his career might be on the line.

“It would have been tough and was tough hearing that, but I’ve been extremely fortunate,” said Davies.

“Rugby has been very kind to me and I’ve had some amazing experiences. Me being me and with the fortunate situation I’m in, I could have just about taken that. It was almost another challenge for me to then say, ‘this isn’t going to stop me. I am going to come back from this’.

“It did start a fire in me to keep pushing and striving to come

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