One of the greatest impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the effect on our children and young people. Every parent knows the importance of education, which is why the Government undertook every action to keep schools open for all pupils.
This, of course, is not possible during the national lockdown, and last week I met with the Education Secretary to convey the concerns held by myself, parents and teachers in Crawley.
The Department for Education has confirmed that during the lockdown, strengthened remote education expectations will be put in place, with schools expected to provide a set number of hours of high-quality remote education for pupils.
This will be supported by further deliveries of laptops and tablets for the most disadvantaged. The Government has committed to providing over one million devices to help schools and colleges throughout the pandemic with over 560,000 of these delivered last year.
A further 50,000 devices were sent to schools across the country last Monday alone, with well over 100,000 devices being delivered over the course of last week.
Also of vital importance is the elimination of any barriers to remote learning, which is being done by Government working with leading mobile operators to deliver free internet access.
The Get Help with Technology Programme sees operators including EE, O2, Three and Vodafone provide free data to those students without internet access. This is in addition to the more than 54,000 4G routers Government has delivered to schools and colleges to support families.
The Department for Education has also outlined alternative arrangements for this summer’s GCSE, AS and A Level exams.
The Office of Qualifications & Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) is expected to consider a teacher assessed system as a replacement for these exams. A consultation is to be launched shortly to not only provide certainty to schools, colleges and students, but to enable them to give their views as well.
Schools and colleges will also be able to use their best judgement in supporting students sitting technical and vocational exams this month.
While schools and colleges can decide whether assessments should go ahead as planned this month, particularly to help those moving into roles which require a ‘license to practice’ that can only be fulfilled through practical assessment such as an electrician, I welcome assurances that the Government are working with Ofqual on the arrangements for students not taking their assessments this month. This is in addition to vocational and technical assessments scheduled for February and onwards.
Around two million vaccines have now been administered UK-wide – more than the rest of Europe combined. With the rollout continuing in Crawley and nationally we have hope of getting back to normality as soon as possible.
Henry Smith MP