Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Schools Secretary Ed Balls have announced that 270,000 low income families are to get free computers and broadband access. The £300 million investment in the ‘Home Access’ programme is designed to give young people access to a computer and internet at home for their education, and help get parents better involved and keep in touch with their child’s progress.
Families with children in years three to nine, who are entitled to free schools meals, will be able to apply for a grant to buy a computer and broadband connection from an approved supplier.Looked after children up to the age of 18 will also receive laptops, and the scheme will offer bespoke packages to provide more support for SEN children.
Successful pilots in Oldham and Suffolk showed a positive impact. On average, children who received computers from the Home Access programme spent an hour more per week for learning online, compared to their classmates who already had the internet at home and 81 per cent of parents believed that home access had increased their involvement in their child’s learning.
81 per cent of parents said home access would improve their confidence in using technology and 89 per cent of parents in Oldham and 69 per cent in Suffolk felt it would help them with their skills development.
The Government is currently legislating to make reporting to parents online by 2012 a legal guarantee in the Children, Schools and Families Bill. Home Access computers are loaded with a suite of software to support literacy and numeracy for all the family.
Brown said: “I believe everyone should benefit from new advances in technology. It’s right that we break down any barriers to social mobility in order to give more children and families the opportunity to complete coursework, conduct research and apply for jobs online.”
Further information: DCSF