Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Fears home-schooling could be hampered by bad broadband for north-east pupils

Barry Black has published research showing the impact of lockdown on attainment.
Barry Black has published research showing the impact of lockdown on attainment.

Concerns have been raised that sores of north-east pupils could struggle to keep up with their classmates under new home learning plans as 10% of homes in the region have inadequate internet quality.

As schools across Scotland return to online learning as part of renewed efforts to drive down Covid cases, analysis has shown one in 10 Aberdeenshire homes does not receive what Ofcom regards as “decent” broadband coverage.

Education researcher and Scottish Labour candidate for the North East seat at the next Holyrood election, Barry Black, has published research on the impact of lockdown on attainment which highlights the challenges that exist with online learning.

Data from September, which is held by the House of Commons library, shows that 9.4% of homes in Aberdeenshire cannot access adequate broadband.

In Banff and Buchan, there are areas where that tally is nearly 40%.

Of 75 areas in Aberdeenshire, 39 are in the worst 10% of areas in the UK for broadband access.

‘Dereliction of duty’

Mr Black said schools, teachers and parents are being “let down by a lack of support and infrastructure from the government”.

He said “If we look beyond the obvious long-term economic impact of these figures, it can be seen how difficult it will be for many communities in the north-east to even access online learning from today.

“Scotland has remained woefully unprepared for the realities of online learning – and home working – since the start of this pandemic.

“Particularly in rural areas, there is a real risk of the attainment gap widening over the period of lockdown.

“We have known the risk of having to revert to online schooling since the spring, and it is a dereliction of duty that we are still so ill-prepared.”

Douglas Ross

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said the attainment gap between pupils from richer and poorer backgrounds will “expand rapidly” if the issue isn’t resolved quickly.

Mr Ross said: “All the feedback we have from parents and teachers suggests that schools are scrambling at the last minute to make up for the SNP’s woeful lack of proper planning to deliver online learning.

“Guidance has been vague, leaving parents unsure of what to expect from schools while children are at home.”

MP for Banff and Buchan, David Duguid, said broadband troubles continue to be “one of the major issues” for his constituents.

Analysis from the Scottish Conservatives found 38,000 devices which were to be delivered to pupils have not yet been distributed.

Scottish Conservative education spokesman, Jamie Greene MSP, added “Despite having months to prepare for this situation, the SNP’s planning has been completely inadequate.

“We warned the SNP government for months that they were under-prepared for a blanket move to blended learning, and the inevitable outcome of their failure will be an avoidable and shameful widening of the attainment gap in Scotland.”

In response, a spokesman for the Scottish Government said “Although all legal and regulatory responsibility for ensuring access to digital infrastructure is the responsibility of UK Ministers, the Scottish Government is committed to tackling gaps in broadband coverage in Scotland, to increasing digital participation and ensuring that all of Scotland is able to enjoy the social, cultural and economic benefits of the internet.

“We are focussed on ensuring pupils continue to benefit from a high quality education even during lockdown and have invested £25 million to address digital exclusion.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in