The Mayor of London has been called on to help schools identify which pupils need extra support after this summer’s exams were cancelled.
Following the announcement that GCSE and A-level exams would be replaced by teacher assessments, London Assembly Education Panel Chairman Jenette Arnold urged Sadiq Khan to help local authorities identify pupils who are “effectively offline” and whose results may be negatively affected by teacher-led grading.
Ms Arnold said: “While the Government may be stepping up to get families laptops, tablets and routers, students in digital and economic disadvantage already had learning setbacks and poorer education access before the pandemic began.
“Evidence shows that relying on predicted grades can have a bigger impact on BAME and working class children. Cancelling the exams and buying more laptops may not be enough to overcome the learning gaps forced on them by school shut downs.
“I urge the Mayor to lead on helping London authorities and schools to identify and estimate children who are effectively offline.
“Many young Londoners are struggling to learn remotely for reasons out of their control. They will be worried about what this means for their grades.
“Students need urgent clarity from the Government on how a teacher-led grading system will work and if gaps in learning will be factored in. The Mayor must ask the Government what it will do to address the impact on children being left behind.”
City Hall does not currently collect data on which students in London need more educational support and instead relies on national data.
Ofcom estimates that up to 1.78 million children in the UK have no access to a device such as a laptop, desktop computer or tablet and more than 880,000 children live in a household that relies on mobile data for an internet connection.
In addition to promising the delivery of one million laptops and tablets to schools and colleges, the Government has announced it was working with leading mobile network providers to offer free mobile data for disadvantaged families.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson also revealed that children who do not have adequate access to the internet or electronic devices are classed as “vulnerable” and are therefore able to go to school during lockdown.
Mr Williamson said: “Schools and colleges are much better prepared to deliver online learning – with the delivery of hundreds of thousands of devices at breakneck speed, data support and high quality video lessons available.
“We are working with Ofqual, headteachers and the education sector to make sure those young people who were due to sit exams can take their next step and progress in education or into the world of work.
“We are keeping schools and colleges open to vulnerable children and those of critical workers and I would like to thank all our teachers, support staff and all who work in education as we deal with this evolving situation and know that together we will get through this and be able to reopen all our schools to all pupils.”