MP urges government to give more remote learning support for schools

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas.

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas. - Credit: Andrew Achilleos

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas has urged the government to provide more support for schools to help children with remote learning.

The Labour politician wrote to education secretary Gavin Williamson earlier this week on the issue of laptop provision for schools.

Mr Cruddas said he has been contacted by concerned parents and schools which "simply do not have the resources to deliver digital excellence".

He said one parent had alleged that at their child's school there was a waiting list of more than 200 for a laptop or device, meaning their child cannot access online learning.

Mr Cruddas told Mr Williamson: "The failures of government to properly address the digital divide have made such a statistic a stark reality for hundreds of families across Dagenham and Rainham."

He has reached out to businesses in his constituency asking them to donate laptops or cash to schools.

“Quite frankly it is a disgrace and an embarrassment that I find myself reaching out to local businesses to provide support which the government should be providing."

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Schools have been closed, except to children of key workers and vulnerable children, since the country entered a national lockdown in early January.

Mr Cruddas said he is working with headteachers on the issue and urged the government to consider that there are areas with "greater need" than others, such as Dagenham and Rainham.

A Department for Education spokesperson said it is providing 1.3 million laptops and tablets to schools and colleges for children most in need, with more than 800,000 having been delivered so far.

They added: “We are acutely aware of the additional challenges faced by disadvantaged children during this crisis, and how difficult this period has been for families, schools, and young people.

"That is why we have been, and are, doing everything possible to ensure pupils’ education does not suffer because of the virus.

"Nearly 240,000 devices have been issued since schools closed to most pupils this month and we have partnered with mobile network operators so families can access free data if they need to do so.”