Last updated: 11.01.13

Poorer pupils 'missing out on online learning'

School pupils from poorer families who do not have an internet connection at home could be missing out on the benefits offered by e-learning.

According to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), children from the wealthiest parents all have access to the web, while more than one-third of students from low-income households do not have a computer.

Valerie Thompson from the E-Learning Foundation stated individuals without the internet are missing out, as they are struggling to do research for their homework or complete coursework adequately. They are also unable to log onto online training portals, which allow pupils to submit work digitally and receive virtual feedback from their teachers.

The charity said the results clearly mark a divide between rich and poor, adding the ONS data translates to a total of 750,000 school-age children living in homes with no internet, while around 650,000 do not own a computer.

It was also revealed that where 99 per cent of pupils in the richest ten per cent of households can access the web, this fell to 57 per cent in the poorest ten per cent of families.

Ms Thompson continued: "Poverty is clearly a factor in poor access to digital learning technologies and poor performance at school. The link between the two cannot be ignored."

Not just important in the early stages of education, having online access could be crucial for young people later in life, particularly when they start looking for work. Many businesses are using e-learning and value internet skills among their employees, so this puts poorer children at an even greater disadvantage.

Managers who are choosing to roll out online courses to workers that can be accessed at their own convenience are saving time for both themselves and staff. One online learning provider that can offer materials in this area is Virtual College, an Ilkley-based institution that boasts a wide a range of digital modules and its own Learning Management System.

The body can offer employers training in subjects like Equality and Diversity in the Workplace, First Aid and Understanding the Principles of Customer Service.