Home-schooling technology demands hits poorer families hardest, study finds

Written by Ailean Beaton on 23 June 2020 in News
News

Research shows children learning or mobile phones and parents stretching budgets to buy new equipment

Credit: Pxhere

The cost of school closures during the coronavirus pandemic has fallen heaviest on children from low-income families, a survey of Scottish parents and children has found.

Two in five low-income families in Scotland who responded to a survey from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) said that they were missing at least one essential resource to support their children’s learning.

One-third of those who are already most worried about money have had to buy a laptop, tablet or other device to make sure their children could take part in online schooling.

Parents and pupils told of problems sharing devices between siblings and meeting the expense of printing worksheets.

One 12-year-old girl wrote: “I share the desk top with my brother for his homework too. He is in primary school. I miss my laptop from school because I am dyslexic and it helps me more. I miss my teachers because they can help me better, especially when I’m not confident in what I’m doing. I miss my friends a lot.”


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A mother of three who has experienced difficulty upgrading her device to meet requirements said her nine-year-old daughter had missed out on staying in touch with her class.

Another parent said: “We don't have a tablet or computer. Only mobile phone which is our only contact source too. The screen is very small. My child has found it difficult to concentrate with the small screen. Having a laptop or tablet would have been very helpful.”

John Dickie, director of CPAG in Scotland, said: “This crisis means that even more families than usual are facing financial challenges as schools return with the new blended learning approach.  Parents have told us what a difference digital and classroom resources and support make, both to their budgets and to their children’s learning. Government at every level must now commit to ensuring every child has what they need to fully take part in learning, whether that’s in school or from home.”

The survey of 3,218 parents and carers and 1,074 children and young people across Scotland was conducted in May.

 

About the author

Ailean Beaton is a journalist at PublicTechnology sister publication Holyrood, where this article first appeared. He tweets as @AileenBeaton.

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