New campaign targets the 750,000 students who still cannot get online access at home

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A new campaign has been launched to provide home internet access to the UK’s poorest children.

It is thought that up 750,000 children are unable to access the internet at home even though schools expect them to use the internet for revision and homework.

Furthermore, recent figures show that almost half of families in the poorest 10 per cent of households are not online, and that figure has only improved two per cent in the last two years. Also, children from single-parent families are significantly less likely to be online at home when compared with households with two or more adults.

The Mind the Gap scheme, launched by the e-Learning Foundation in conjunction with the online technology question and answer community, Quib.ly, wants to bridge this gap.

The campaign aims to make the plight of these children more widely known and to garner support from organisations, companies and businesses which can pledge financial and other support.

This includes encouraging housing associations and local authorities to offer free broadband to residents, where possible, as well as making available donated internet-enabled devices and software.

So far more than 40 schools have signed up to the scheme.

Valerie Thompson, chief executive of the e-Learning Foundation told delegates attending the launch: “We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. If we can harness the support of charities, schools, local authorities, housing associations, companies, and individuals who care, to get behind this campaign, then we could see in as short a period as two to three years, the digital divide for children eradicated in the UK.”

She added: “A lack of online access isn’t just holding the children back, it’s holding the school back; until you can guarantee that every child can complete a piece of work on a computer at home, you can’t encourage and embrace technology to its full in school.

“It is now a realistic objective that every school-age child in this country can get online at home within the next two to three years.”

Francesco Cardoletti, chief executive of Quib.ly, added: “The ultimate goal of this campaign is to make sure that every single child has access to the internet at home. The goal is ambitious but it’s not crazy.

“There are companies out there who would benefit from giving access to the internet because they could increase their user base. If we pull all the right resources together, it’s very achievable.”

In the first year, Mind the Gap aims to target 100,000 children, as schools sign up to the scheme. It is expected that funding will come from corporate and individual donors as well as from schools using Pupil Premium funding, which campaign advisors will help schools to allocate effectively.

For more information, visit www.mindthegap.org.uk


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