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UCU says students must not lose out due to digital poverty during lockdown

6 January 2021 | last updated: 7 January 2021

UCU said that all students in post-16 education must be supported so they can learn remotely during the latest lockdown.

The union was responding to the secretary of state for education Gavin Williamson's statement on the impact of the lockdown on the education sector and measures to support students over the coming months.

Mr Williamson said that measures would be put in place so disadvantaged school students could continue to learn off site, including providing laptops and Internet data. However, the minister did not set out how students in further education colleges, universities and prisons would be supported to learn remotely.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'The government urgently needs to increase its support for students in post-16 education so that everyone is able to learn remotely. The last lockdown hit the least affluent hardest, with too many students unable to learn online due to the digital divide. After failing so miserably to support students last year, ministers now need to make sure no student is left behind.

'Staff in colleges, prisons, universities and adult education have worked tirelessly to support their students throughout this pandemic. The least the government can do is match this commitment by providing all students with the tools they need to learn remotely. Unfortunately, from free school meals to exam results, this looks like a government that has to be shamed into doing anything to help those who struggle the most.'

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