Every Child Our Future is delighted to have secured funding to provide digital devices to four local schools: Rouge Bouillon, Plat Douet, St. Luke’s, and Les Quennevais.
The school closures due to Covid-19 have served to widen the educational gap between affluent and disadvantaged children. A recent study suggested school closures in the UK could wipe out 10 years of progress in closing the achievement gap between poor and affluent pupils. The Education Endowment Fund report found the estimated impact on widening the gap between the poorest group of pupils and their wealthier peers could be up to 75%. There are many reasons for this, including lack of support at home for disadvantaged children and also lack of technology to be able to access the online learning. In contrast, many affluent households have individual devices for each child, combined with a supportive learning environment, meaning that these children continue to progress in their education, while less affluent children fall further behind.
During the closures, schools in Jersey lent out as many devices as they could to families who needed them, but simply did not have enough stock to be able to help all their pupils. Every Child Our Future believes every child should have access to the same learning opportunities, regardless of background.
Now that the schools have reopened, the need for access to devices has not gone away. For many disadvantaged children, improved access to online programmes would be hugely beneficial in mitigating against gaps in support within their home environment. For example, Reading Records indicate that many parents do not read with their children, but access to programmes such as Reading Eggs could deliver the practice and fun essential to that child’s progress. The success of using Microsoft Teams and Google Classrooms during school closures means that these platforms are likely to be integrated further into school and homework. Children without access to devices to engage with these platforms will fall further behind, while children with access will race ahead.
Russell Price, Head Teacher at Rouge Bouillon, had these comments:
“The school closures highlighted several areas where some less wealthy families were at a disadvantage to others. There are the obvious ones where children who live in larger houses with gardens are at an advantage to those in small flats with no outside space, but there was a digital divide too. We surveyed our families just before the schools closed and found that a large proportion either had no adequate device to access home learning, or had very limited access, such as sharing a single device with other family members who were working from home or also trying to study. We were able to help to a limited degree by lending out the limited stock of ageing devices the school had, but what is really needed is adequate IT resources for children both within school and to enable home learning, both during this pandemic and afterwards.
ECOF, who are already involved with the school to support reading, and their partner funders are helping to address the inequality by providing Rouge Bouillon with part of the money we need to enable all children from year 2 upwards to have ready access to an Ipad in school and potentially at home too. The benefits would be significant in terms of the time saved in school, access to specialist apps to support learning, the recording of children’s ideas and outcomes and overall levels of digital literacy. With the increasing proportion of careers requiring high levels of digital literacy, without such an opportunity, our children will be at a significant disadvantage to their more affluent peers. One other added benefit would be that should there be a cause for us to rely on Google Classroom again in the future, next time we would be able to transition into it almost seamlessly, minimising any disruption to learning.
We are very grateful for ECOF’s ongoing support and thank both them and those working with ECOF for continuing to make a tangible difference for our children.”