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Covid-19 Education Recovery: Access to Tablets and Laptops

Volume 705: debated on Monday 6 December 2021

11. What steps his Department is taking to provide students with access to tablets and laptops to support covid-19 education recovery. (904572)

We have announced that we will provide an additional 500,000 devices for disadvantaged children and young people this year, on top of the 1.35 million delivered already. This brings our total investment to support remote education and online social care to more than £520 million.

But that is no substitute for face-to-face learning. What can the Ministers say to those parents who are exasperated by their children even now being sent home to begin remote learning?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right to suggest that the evidence is that children benefit from face-to-face learning, and that is why our priority is for schools to deliver face-to-face education to all pupils. Regular attendance at school is vital for children’s education, wellbeing and longer-term development. Where a pupil cannot attend school because they are following public health advice relating to covid, schools must provide immediate access to remote education. I am pleased to confirm that the figures as of 25 November showed that 99% of schools were open to provide face-to-face education.

In a recent survey of providers, 90% said that the Government’s contractor for their flagship national tutoring programme was not prepared for its launch. With children into their third year of disruption, what action will the Minister take to ensure additional tutoring support reaches every child who needs it?

I welcome the hon. Gentleman to his place, and I look forward to working opposite him. The national tutoring programme is on track overall, and we are seeing strong take-up of the school-based element, with increasing take-up of the academic mentor element. We want to see more take-up of direct tutoring, and we are working closely with Randstad and its sub-providers to ensure it steps up and increases as we hit a higher trajectory later in the year.