York & North Yorkshire

Disadvantaged pupils laptop scheme in York 'too slow'

Child learning on a laptop Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The government scheme was announced in April for children without access to a computer or the internet

A scheme to provide disadvantaged children with laptops faces delays and not enough devices, according to one local authority.

City of York Council said it had been allocated 200 fewer devices than it needed and it had taken too long to receive them.

The scheme was announced by the education secretary in April.

The Department for Education (DfE) said it had delivered 200,000 devices to the children who needed them most.

The devices are for children who are in or leaving care, those who have a social worker assigned to them and disadvantaged pupils in year 10 who do not have social care involvement.

The councillor with responsibility for education in York, Ian Cuthbertson, said the city's allocation was lower than expected due to the government's eligibility criteria.

'Narrow the gap'

"We thought that just over 700 would be needed and the government has provided us with just under 500 and it's the children who are in the greatest need who are going to suffer here," he said.

He said the time it was taking to get the laptops meant many of the children who needed them would receive them just before the end of term.

"These young people are young people that we see typically as part of the disadvantage gap and it's going to be hard to narrow the gap in the time we have got," he said.

A Department for Education spokesperson said it had published guidance to local authorities on the eligibility criteria and was delivering orders within five days.

"We're taking action to make sure no child falls behind as a result of coronavirus, including providing over £100m to support children to learn at home and funding delivery of over 200,000 laptops and tablets for the children who need them most," they said.

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