For children and young people, life long learning and educational opportunities are increasingly digital by default.
We believe that every school-aged child in the UK has the right to safe access to the educational opportunities of the internet at home regardless of background or ability.
The Learning Foundation, through its initiative Digital Access for All, is absolutely delighted to share the news that Dixons Carphone will be working with us to achieve our ambitions. See the full press release is here.
Dixons Carphone will be investing £1million during 2021 to support a number of major projects. Key amongst these will be:
- Through the Learning Foundation, supporting 1,000 teachers in the country’s poorest communities. Whilst huge amounts have been done to ensure school children are connected, there are thousands of teachers who also don’t have the access and support they need to get online and use the power of technology as part of their teaching tool set. The support will initially include a device of their own but will expand to meet other needs they identify and which we can meet.
- Dixons Carphone will become one of the Founding Partners of the Digital Poverty Alliance. This is being established by Digital Access for All in partnership with the Institution of Engineering & Technology.
- Dixons Carphone are committed to working with us at Learning Foundation and Digital Access for All to help end digital poverty once and for all. This will be for everyone but especially school aged children and their families.
To find out more please contact us at:
What we’ve been doing
During 2019, the Digital Access For All (DAFA) Taskforce focussed its time on research and development. Working with a number of ‘pilot’ families we looked at a number of propositions to provide scalable solutions. We did this and continue to do this so that we can provide advice and access to the one million+ families in the UK currently excluded, underserved supported digitally. Of course this has been made ever more stark in light of the school closures caused by COVID-19.
We also discovered that there is too little information about the numbers of families and children affected and the quality and degree to which individual households are ‘connected’. We know from OfCom research in 2019 that:
- 7% of 5-15 year olds in the UK have no fixed broadband access and will be relying almost exclusively on a mobile phone for connectivity and use as a device. This number increases to 14% of children from DE families.
- That 160,000+ 5-15 year olds have no connectivity whatsoever at home
- Many families have very limited data packages and a single device for all the family to use/share/fight over.
- Finally - we know that access to a device and connectivity where and when you need it is no longer a nice-to-have but absolutely essential - at almost every age. As matters as diverse as signing on, looking for work, learning, training and shopping all become easier and better to access online - all those families that are not well connected (and arguably those that stand to gain the most from being connected) will fall further behind.
What we’re doing right now
What we’re doing right now
We have two current focuses:
- To support whoever needs the support - from individual schools and even families to national independent and government initiatives. We have been involved with organisations like National Grid and others in sharing 1000s of new and refurbished devices they made available. These devices were refurbished to a high standard and have gone out to families of secondary school-aged children. We also sit on a number of specialist groups.
- Our heads are much more now in the medium to longer term. Whilst the DfE have pledged to provide up to 1.3 million devices to young people who are disconnected at home with devices we know that 1.) this is still not enough and there remain many hundreds of thousands of young people and families still needing support and 2) The impact on learning will not be as significant as it could be or as we would like. Many of these young people are disengaged from learning for many other reasons.
In the Summer of 2020 DAFA started to bring together a number of major organisations to deal conclusively and sustainably with the issue of digital poverty which is blighting the lives of families and schoolchildren across the UK. Leadership is needed alongside collaboration and coordination. There are a remarkable number of projects, organisations and individuals across the UK doing whatever they can to minimise, reduce and eliminate digital divide for their families, their communities and their stakeholders. Too many are having to learn lessons already learned, too many have had to focus on approaching too few providers for support and there will be some who, completely obliviously, may actually be causing more harm in the short term than good. We want to support and learn from the best of those and best practice needs to be made available and some coordination of efforts so that those who can shoulder more of the weight do and those who can’t don’t.
Where are the speedbumps and where are the hurdles and the gaps - we will work with a wide variety of individuals and organisations already engaged with this subject to answer those questions and develop solutions
More research is required to look again at need as the UK recognises that it is not just about having access at home but about the quality of that access - how many people are sharing how many devices, how much data does the family have to share in a month - not just in the short term but in the long term too. Every school-aged child should have access, at home, to a device and connectivity whenever they need it.
There needs to be a much more strategic long-term and multi-level response to the subject of digital poverty and inclusion. Something that DAFA has led on with families and individual school children since our launch in the Spring of 2019. In early 2021 we will be in a position to make announcements on this alongside one or two key organisations that we expect to be working with. We would value support and ideas and input from anyone with thoughts to share and will let you know how best to do this early in 2021. In the meantime please do write to us at Hello@digitalaccessforall.co.uk.
The DAFA initiative was developed by the Learning Foundation, a consultancy with a social purpose, and Nominet, a non-profit with a purpose. Nominet are operating at the heart of the UK internet infrastructure responsible for the .UK domain space, as lead founding partners, with support from Lord Knight and Baroness Harding. Early initiating partners included Intel, Lloyds Bank, Microsoft, BT, Carnegie UK Trust, Computer Recyclers, Dell and the Good Things Foundation. In addition we have had outstanding programmatic support from Cap Gemini and many individuals such as Tristan Wilkinson.
We welcome people and organisations with ideas and drive to see and support this social change and can be contacted at all times at: email@example.com.