Disadvantaged pupils to be given laptops to study online while North Yorkshire schools stay closed
Hundreds of disadvantaged students in North Yorkshire are to be given free laptops and tablets to help them study at home during lockdown.
With schools expected to remain closed until June at the earliest, the government has ordered almost 1,000 pieces of equipment for the county's children who are most in need.
The region is set to receive 830 devices for young people in social care, with a further 119 going to disadvantaged students in Year 10 who are studying for GCSE and other exams next year.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said it will "take the pressure" off parents with children at home.
"By providing young people with these laptops and tablets and enabling schools to access high quality support, we will enable all children to continue learning now and in the years to come," he said.
The promise of technology comes in response to worries that pupils from poorer families are losing out during the weeks out of school.
Before the announcement was made, it was estimated there are around one million children nationally who do not have access to learning devices or internet connections at home.
North Yorkshire County Council is now working to identify which children need the digital devices before they are distributed in June.
There is also an offer of some 4G routers to help families connect to the internet - and once classrooms reopen, schools and colleges will be able to keep the equipment.
Students have now been away from their desks for almost seven weeks with teachers in Harrogate continuing to conduct lessons online.
Two council-run hubs in Harrogate and Ripon are also caring for children of key workers.
And in another move to make remote learning more accessible, a new national online academy providing 180 online lessons per week has been launched.
The Oak National Academy has been created by teachers from some of the UK's top schools in just two weeks.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has already announced that the reopening of schools will take place in a "phased manner"- after the coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
He later said schools and colleges will remain closed “until the scientific advice changes”, which is “why we need to support the incredible work teachers are already doing to ensure children continue to receive the education they deserve and need."
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter
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