Latest data from colleges reveals that as many as 100,000 students may be missing out on learning because they do not have a suitable device to learn on or home access to the internet. College students have been excluded from government funded laptops for under-16s and today’s figures confirm that the lost learning gap will only widen if post-16 students do not have equal access to the equipment they need to catch up.
It comes as over two thirds (67%) of colleges said that students’ lost learning is a concern. The country’s poorest and most disadvantaged young people are at risk of falling further behind as a mixture of blended learning (online lessons and face-to-face) becomes the norm for many courses. The lack of access to basic technology also increases the risks of young people being even more cut off from friends, family and teachers.
The government’s 16 to 19 bursary fund helped between April and July to ease the pressures, but it did not support the numbers in need. AoC is calling for a renewed support package for all disadvantaged students so that they can succeed this year through the blended learning which is now increasingly normal.
Chief Executive of Association of Colleges, David Hughes said:
“The legacy of lockdown must not be a generation of learners who have lost out because of digital poverty. Without immediate support for colleges to allow students to get the devices and access they need; we risk stunting the life chances of young people for years to come.
Further education is the vehicle to better life chances and opportunities and future life chances, blended learning looks like a solid feature of that future Digital poverty must not be a barrier. The government must do more to ensure that every young person can engage effectively with their learning online no matter their socioeconomic status.”