Another great blog to get us thinking by Dr Paula Stone; let Paula know what you think about this initiative by adding your comments.
This week (20 February), the Education Secretary Damian Hinds has announced the roll-out of free access to educational apps to families from disadvantaged backgrounds in a bid to boost early literacy and language skills. Up to 375 schools and nurseries will be recruited for the pilot projects, run by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and Leeds-based education charity SHINE.
Families from disadvantaged backgrounds, with children aged two to four, will be given free access to some of the best children’s educational apps for smart phones and tablets, encouraging parents to think about how to use children’s screen time constructively, rather than as an easy distraction [sic]. Parents will also benefit from text message tips to support children’s early language and literacy at home, the DfE reports.
Mr. Hinds states that ‘the home learning environment can have a huge impact on a child’s ability to succeed in life, so I want to support families with hints and tips to propel their child’s learning so they are not behind on their first day of school and they can go on to reach their full potential, whatever their background’.
I will never fail to be astonished by the myopic view of government minsters when trying to address socio-economic disadvantage and the impact that this has on young children’s lives. First of all, they are making the assumption that families in socio-economic disadvantage have smartphones and tablets. Secondly, do they honestly think that parents from low-income families will benefit from being sent three texts each week to encourage activities that help develop literacy, numeracy and socio-emotional skills when they are struggling to feed and clothe their children. Recent figures from the Resolution Foundation indicate that in 2016 30.3 per cent of children lived in relative poverty (i.e. in a household with an equivalised disposable income after housing costs of below 60 per cent of the median) and this number is continuing to grow. What these families need is proper welfare support but instead they are offered further welfare cuts, and benefit freezes. We are on the cusp of a child poverty crisis which will damage both the life chances of a generation and the wider economy and what are hard pressed families offered ……an app.
Do you think initiatives like this are a good way of making a real difference for children from disadvantaged backgrounds?