Pupils without internet 'disadvantaged in education'

Child using a laptop An increasing amount of homework requires use of the internet

More than half of teachers believe that children with no internet access are seriously disadvantaged in their education, a survey has suggested.

A fifth of the 585 teachers surveyed for the Times Educational Supplement and charity E-Learning Foundation said internet access was essential for pupil's homework.

The charity also warned it was seeing support from the government cut.

It is estimated two million children live in homes without internet access.

An increasing amount of schoolwork, especially at secondary school, is dependent on computer use.

'Digital divide'

Some 55% of those surveyed said children who had no internet at home were at a serious disadvantage.

Chief executive of the E-Learning Foundation, Valerie Thompson, said the digital divide was having a damaging impact on children's prospects.

"Young people without access to the internet can struggle to complete their homework and coursework, and fall behind.

"Teachers are increasingly assuming that children have internet access, making it harder, and this can exacerbate the impact of the divide.

"If we are serious about improving the life chances of the most disadvantaged, we have to tackle the digital divide, otherwise the poorest children will be left even further behind."

The charity helps ensure children have access to learning technologies.

Read a selection of your comments

During my last year of GCSEs and during my A-Levels I had no internet access. I was often set work that involved going online and had to stay after school hours trying to do homework. But the sheer amount meant that I was unable to finish it before the buildings were locked up. Now I am at uni and have the internet but when I go home I still have no internet, so studying for exams is going to be hard as lecturers all communicate by email and all resources are online! It is hard when it is assumed you have the internet.

Danielle, Somerset, UK

I'm still at school, and it really is true. I know girls who get in trouble and can't do any of their homework because they don't have the internet at home. Fair? No. Another problem is that, at my school at least, teachers assume that everyone can go to the ICT suites at lunch, which they can't. There are tickets given out on the stairs which run out quickly, which means that not enough people get the opportunity to do their homework at lunch, and students often have other commitments anyway, like clubs, detention, or eating.

Kaisha, UK

I'd also like to point out that it is not just the children from a low income background who don't have access. My parents distrust the internet and refuse to allow me access to a computer. They have the income, they just don't want the computer!

MDM, UK

I am a teacher and if the children do not have the internet we give them the option of using it in school time before their homework is due. This seems to solve that problem.

Craig, Rugby, UK

People without internet access at home could always go to their local library, you can use it there. And don't forget you could also look things up in BOOKS!

Jo, Karratha, Australia

I am quite concerned that there is increasing pressure for me to find a computer and internet access for my daughter aged 10. I have my own work computer and internet access (for work only). I cannot even begin to contemplate how one is supposed to purchase a second computer, constantly upgrade software, buy and install new software and constantly keep it bug and virus-free in terms of cost and time. Working on a PC is not a problem-free technology. Nor is it cheap.

Alexandra Stacey, Aberdeen, UK

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