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Only 2% of teachers working in the most disadvantaged communities believe all their pupils have adequate access to devices for home learning

We are calling on internet providers and technology companies to increase access to online learning for children in the poorest communities.

A new survey from the education charity Teach First has found that only 2% of teachers working in the most disadvantaged schools believe all their pupils have adequate access to devices, such as laptops and tablets, for online learning. This is four times less than teachers working in the most affluent schools (9%) and three times less than the national average (7%).

The survey, carried out by TeacherTapp, also found teachers working in the country’s most disadvantaged schools are six times less likely to think all their pupils will have adequate access to the internet compared to teachers working in the most affluent schools (2% vs 12%). This compares to a national average of 8%.

The survey also found that:

  • A quarter of teachers (25%) working in the country’s most disadvantaged schools think at least a fifth of their pupils do not have adequate access to a device for online learning at home. This compares to 4% of teachers working in the most affluent schools and 7% of all teachers. 
  • A fifth (19%) of teachers working in disadvantaged schools say one in five of their pupils do not have adequate access to internet, compared to 2% of teachers in the most affluent schools and 9% of all teachers.  
  • In the most affluent schools, 62% of teachers think that no more than 2% of their pupils will struggle with internet access when learning from home. Compared to only 17% of teachers at the most disadvantaged schools.

Disadvantaged pupils are on average 18 months behind the rest of the class in academic achievement by the age of 16 and Teach First is warning that these pupils need additional resources to prevent the attainment gap from increasing. The charity is there calling for:  

  • Telecommunications providers to offer free access to WiFi hotspots, lift data caps and undertake a national effort to install broadband in the homes of students that do not currently have access to broadband.  
  • Technology companies should also look to either donate or offer free leasing of internet-enabled devices until students can return to the classroom.  
  • Energy companies to provide electricity for disadvantaged pupils to learn from home.  

This analysis comes a week after headteachers that form Teach First’s National Schools’ Forum wrote an open letter to the Secretary of State, calling for immediate action to ensure pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are not left behind in the wake of school closures.

Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First said:  

“Home schooling is difficult for any family, but for children with limited access to a laptop or the internet the barriers to studying are much greater. These figures show we need to stand behind disadvantaged young people now, or else the gap in achievement and opportunity between the rich and poor will rapidly widen.  

“All teachers and parents are working hard, but they need wider society’s help to make sure the most vulnerable children don’t get left behind. That’s why we’re calling for telecommunication providers and technology companies to play their part and think creatively and swiftly about what can be done to ensure all children receive a fair education through this unprecedented challenge.”

Lizzie Pocklington, science teacher at Nottingham Academy said:  

“Sadly many of my pupils simply don’t have access to the internet or devices to help them study at home. We’ve been working really hard to print out home learning packs and send them to students who can’t get online, but it’s making an already challenging job even harder – and I’m worried they’re going to fall behind other children.

“I’ve called parents of pupils in this situation, to offer the best guidance and advice on how to revise at home without the online tools. They’ve been so appreciative that we’re checking in on them, making sure everyone is safe and well, it really encourages a great sense of community resilience.

“In an ideal world we’d be having daily phone calls with students who can’t access online resources – but that just isn’t logistically possible. For now, we just have to try and ensure that they’re learning the best they can with what they have at home.” 



Notes to editor 

Teacher Tapp surveyed 6,249 teachers in schools across England. The results were reweighted to ensure representativeness.

About Teach First 

Teach First is an education charity with a mission to build a fair education for all. Through a range of school leadership programmes the charity supports teachers, leaders and schools facing the biggest challenges, serving the most disadvantaged communities.     
The charity has now recruited over 14,000 teachers and leaders, has over 60 head teachers in their alumni and has supported over a million pupils.    
Those on the Training Programme commit to a minimum of two years at their partner school, where they teach a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) timetable; and around half stay on for a third year. More than half of all the teachers who’ve completed training since 2003 are currently teaching.    
The charity supports whole leadership teams through Leading Together. Develops individuals to become effective leaders through Middle Leader, Senior Leader and Headship programmes leading to a National Professional Qualification. And provides Career Leader training to develop a long-term, school wide careers strategy to improve student opportunities after school.     
Teach First currently operates in Wales and in all regions across England: London, West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire the Humber, North West, North East, South East, South Coat, South West and the East of England. 

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