A third of poorest pupils 'without internet at home'

Girls doing homework Some 90% of children can access the internet at home official figures suggest

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More than a third of the poorest children do not have the internet at home and a similar number do not have a computer, official figures suggest.

A new breakdown of Office of National Statistics (ONS) data also showed that children from the wealthiest homes all had internet and computer access.

Campaigners say this 'digital divide' can harm poor pupils' education.

Valerie Thompson of the E-Learning Foundation says children without home internet "lose out big time".

She said, at the most basic level, lack of a home internet connection or a computer could mean that children struggled to research homework or complete coursework and were unable to access school websites which allow pupils to submit work digitally and receive feedback from teachers.

Poor access

"These new statistics show the digital divide is still a major issue for this country's young people.

"Poverty is clearly a factor in poor access to digital learning technologies and poor performance at school. The link between the two cannot be ignored."

The latest ONS Family Spending Survey, published last month, analysed the income and expenditure of more than 11,000 households across the UK. The data was collected in 2011.

The charity, E-Learning Foundation, extracted the data on computer ownership and internet access for families with children aged under 18.

Overall, most children (89%) can get on to the internet via a computer at home but according to E-Learning Foundation this figure masks a divide between rich and poor.

The data shows that while 99% of children in the richest 10% of households can access the internet via a computer, this dropped to 57% in the poorest 10% of households with children.

In the poorest households 29% had no computer, 36% had no internet and 43% had no internet connection via a computer.

According to the E-Learning Foundation this translates to a total of 750,000 school age children living in households with no internet, and some 650,000 without a computer.

'Teenagers and Technology'

A book from Oxford University's Department of Education, published this month, highlights the ways in which teenagers without an internet connection feel shut out from their peer group and disadvantaged in their studies.

The authors of Teenagers and Technology also found that parental fears about teenage time-wasting on social network sites were often unfounded with the benefits using digital technologies outweighing perceived risks.

Start Quote

I had to write a story about heaven and I tried to write it in school but it was bell gone and I have a lot of things that I could write and I was angry that I haven't got a computer because I might finish it at home when I've got lots of time to do it. ”

End Quote Sharon, 15 'Teenagers and Technology' Routledge

A 15-year-old interviewed for the book commented "It was bell gone and I have a lot things that I could write and I was angry that I haven't got a computer because I might finish it at home when I've got lots of time to do it."

And a 14-year-old boy talked about how much harder it was to complete coursework without a home computer: "People with internet can get higher marks because they can research on the internet."

He added that he felt cut off from friends because of being unable to access social networks: "My friends are probably on it all day every day and they talk about it at school".

Co-author Rebecca Eynon said: "Behind the statistics, our qualitative research shows these disconnected young people are clearly missing out both educationally and socially."

E-Learning's Valerie Thompson said imaginative use of technology by schools could help overcome the educational disadvantages suffered by children on free school meals, a key indicator of poverty.

"Technology can underpin learning by making it more relevant and personalised," she said.

"It can also help children with special educational needs, particularly those who struggle to cope in a normal, classroom, helping them learn and complete work at their own pace.

"Technology can allow a school to deliver an education to a child wherever they are, not just in a classroom."

She called for the social housing providers such as housing associations and local authorities to install wi-fi connections for tenants, and for schools to use the government's pupil premium for disadvantaged pupils to buy laptops for the poorest.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Can we really expect everyone in the uk to own a computer? they are a luxury good. Students are able to access the internet through other means, either at school or at a public library.

  • Comment number 63.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Its probably an advantage not to have internet access if you want to do well at school. I have had two children of similar ability go through school. One was on facebook all the time and did not do as well as the one that had restricted access away from the internet. You can't beat good parenting, motivation, teaching, peer group...there is a long list and the internet is not that high.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.


    Prove it. Reading it in the Daily Muck doesnt make it true.

    Schools should open out of hours to provide IT access, local libraries are free and have good IT access.

    I also think talented children from poorer backgrounds should recieve funding based on exam results.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Oh dear, What a shame,

    Let's have another big state hand-out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    That the poor have fewer computers/less internet access is obvious. The only discussion is what we do about it.
    Schools should make sure there are facilities available for study out of hours if necessary (many do) and teachers should be aware of the problem when setting assignments. This is a problem for the schools to address and there is no need for more expensive handouts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.


    Words get added to dictionaries
    Scientific theories evolve
    New species are discovered
    Historic events occur

    The internet provides up to date access to all of those things where as traditionally "reliable sources" such as books are out of date as soon as they are published.... just look at the bible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    I'm bored of stories as to how hard it is on benefits; I am now on benefits for the first time ever due to a serious illness. The money rolls in from all over - I even get £80 a month because I once replied to a telephone question that I didn't have a cooked dinner at lunchtime (not that I want one).

    Am returning to work in Feb but if my earning potential didn't exceed 35k I'd be worse off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    I would agree that having the internet is not the most important element in a child's education. However.. being rich or poor has a massive impact. Poor parents who care about their kids and try their best can find their kids are hindered by large classrooms, poor facilities etc. On the other hand, there are rich parents who don't care but can afford the best education.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    It will not be long before those without the internet surpass those children with it, as they can only get their data from reliable sources.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Sorry, I dont see the internet as a necessity for learning. The UK is at the forefront of modern engineering, the people driving that were educated pre internet, many doing apprenticeships in ship yards or manufacturing plants. I believe education turns out graduates with sound theoretical knowledge but little practical capability and the internet is a contributor to that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    3 Minutes ago
    The Government has a target of ensuring that 89% of claims to benefits are made online.
    Now we see why
    But they have internet connections in the Job Centres so its dead easy to claim benefits assuming of course you can be bothered to get up and use them. Still why ruin a good arguement with facts

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    @39 rich poshos don't live in the real world, do they ? They don't have a clue how ordinary folk struggle from day to day to make ends meet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    I would prefer my grandkids to join clubs and to mix with people rather than become dependent upon these new life support machines. Proper science \ study clubs would teach a child far more than many of the failed apps on the web.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    I completely understand the benefits to having internet access for studying, but I only see it as a problem if the curriculums require it (I don't know if they do). If I had kids and couldn't afford internet facilities I would expect them to use a local library or school facilities. I think a computer would be useful as it will likely come into later work life, but am unsure about internet

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Am I missing something here...have we really had an analysis to discover that poor people do not have a computer, I think a simple dictionary might be in order and maybe these idiots can look up the word "poor". The disgrace is public money has been wasted on this

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    I had a feeling that this 'News Story' was going to end with a cry for 'free computers for the poor' - and I was right.
    It will soon REALLY be a case of 'why work'?

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    I lack the internet at home too. I use public libraries. Adequate for all I need to get done. And free.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    "Lack of Internet is no great loss really."

    I am sorry but it is. We are living in an increasingly online world and with the proliferation of cloud based services, that trend is going to continue. The EU has even ruled on a case that Internet access is now a right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    I and i'm sure many here grew up without internet. It's a sad indictment of the world that anyone without internet is considered 'deprived'. In many ways it's a good thing, your not relying on technology, your using your own mind, like those of us born in the 70's back had to.


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