This afternoon Education Secretary Gavin Williamson delivered an update to the House of Commons relating to the closure of schools during the third lockdown, plans for remote learning and the cancellation of GCSE and A Level exams for 2021.
This is a very concerning time for all young people, especially those who were expecting to sit important exams this year. It is vital that the full detail of the replacement system for grading students this year is brought forward urgently, so that pupils and teachers alike have the certainty they need and deserve.
It is also vital that whilst schools are closed, the associated harms of those closures to children's education is minimised and online learning plays a massive role in that. The requirement on schools to provide high quality remote education is to be welcomed, alongside the governments provision of over 560,000 laptops and tablets already delivered to schools and local authorities for those pupils without access to the appropriate technology, a number rising to 750,000 by the end of next week. There have also been big steps taken to provide free data for educational sites.
However, that presents a problem for the c. 13% of households in the Buckingham constituency with under 10Mbps broadband or no broadband at all, coupled with areas where mobile data is incredibly weak or non existent. So Greg challenged the Secretary of State on what practical steps he could take to support pupils living in households with no or weak internet connectivity, especially as they compete for bandwidth against other household members equally trying to learn or work. The Secretary of State has offered to meet with Greg to discuss solutions, which he will be doing as soon as the meeting is offered. It is vital pupils in this position are not left disadvantaged.