Webinar: Closing the digital divide – what can schools do?

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

What can schools do to support families and pupils who find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide? ​This is the subject for a free SecEd webinar, which is due to take place from 4pm on Thursday, April 28.

In an era of blended and hybrid learning, the digital divide has become an ever-growing barrier to education for many pupils, especially those who are disadvantaged.

Ofcom says that almost 1.8 million children do not have access to a laptop or computer at home. This is 9% of all households with children and it does not take into account those without sole access to a device.

Furthermore, around 560,000 children had no internet access at all and 900,000 or so were only able to access the internet through a mobile network.

The government’s “free laptops and routers” roll-out during the pandemic has helped – but has not solved the problem.

A survey conducted in autumn 2021 by Stone Group, SecEd and Headteacher Update found that the digital divide was one of the biggest barriers to the effective use of technology in schools (cited by 57% of respondents).

And there is a second front emerging in the fight to close the digital divide – that of digital competency and skills (SecEd, 2022). Indeed, only a third of teachers think their students have sufficient digital skills to use devices safely and effectively when learning from home.

So – what can schools realistically and usefully do to help their students and families who find themselves on the wrong side of the divide?

This webinar, which is being hosted by SecEd and Headteacher Update magazines, will discuss this core question, seeking to identify the key challenges and offer practical solutions, examples, and advice for schools. We will also take extensive questions from delegates.

Our expert guests will include:

  • Dr Fiona Aubrey-Smith, an award-winning teacher and leader, Associate Lecturer at The Open University, and an edtech specialist.
  • Bukky Yusuf, senior leader at a special school in London, science teacher, edtech specialist, and educational coach.
  • John Haslam, business development manager, Stone Group.
  • Paul Haigh, headteacher, King Ecgbert School, Sheffield (an edtech demonstrator hub).

The webinar will be hosted by SecEd and Headteacher Update editor Pete Henshaw and themes and questions up for discussion include:

  • What issues are we still seeing in our communities with regards the digital divide?
  • What are the main barriers to education/school with regards edtech-use?
  • What can schools do practically to support families in the short-term?
  • Case study: Work of King Ecgbert School
  • What are the longer term implications for schools?
  • It’s not just devices – how can schools close digital skills gaps for students?
  • What steps can schools take now to make a different to the digital divide?


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