More than 450,000 children struggling to learn at home without access to laptops

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More than 450,000 children have struggled to learn at home during lockdown due to lack of laptops, with single parent families hard hit.

Official figures show more than half of (52.2%) parents said their child found it difficult to study at home since most schools closed their doors in March.

Some 8.5% –  equivalent of 455,384 people – blamed the lack of devices such as laptops for their children’s struggles, as access to a computer and the internet has proved a key part of home learning.

It rose to 20.9% for households with one parent in them, according to Office for National Statistics figures to the end of June.

The figures suggest the poorest families struggled most, with 17.5% of parents earning less than £10,000 saying their children were losing out on studying due to lack of access to laptops.

This compares to just 1.2% of households earning £40,000 whose children are struggling.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said: “These damning figures show thousands of children have struggled to learn from home during the lockdown because of a lack of devices.

“The government has failed these children and their parents by failing to get a laptop to every pupil that needed one.”

The leadership contender added: “Ministers must ensure those who have fallen behind are given the resources to catch up, with a Summer Learning Fund that supports the most disadvantaged pupils.”

It comes after separate figures revealed the government had missed its own target to hand out laptops to needy pupils.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson pledged to roll out 230,000 laptops and tablets to the most needy pupils by the end of June.

But official figures revealed the promise had fallen short, with only 202,212 “delivered or dispatched” by that date.

And pupils could still be waiting for access to devices, as official figures only record when laptops are dispatched to councils or schools.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Schools and teachers have gone to great lengths over recent months to support and educate children at home and in the classroom.

“Over the past weeks we have seen up to 1.6 million children return to school, and all children will return to school in September as we know that is the best place for their education and wellbeing.

“We invested over £100 million in supporting remote education, alongside the launch of Oak National Academy, which has provided millions of online lessons. Our £1 billion Covid catch up fund will help all children to make up for the impact lost time in school has had on their education.”

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