Mover: Sam Cumber.
Summation: Janey Little.
Conference notes that:
- Being able to easily access online learning resources and activities is imperative for networks, learning and communication in the modern digital age, allowing people to collaborate and overcome physical barriers and limitations.
- Many young people cannot access the internet for various reasons, such as regional or financial inequality.
- During a time where educational institutions are being disrupted, either due to COVID-19 or other reasons, technology is important for the continuation of learning, allowing teachers and students to access each other and share work and resources.
- Under the leadership of Liberal Democrat Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, the re-purposing of existing stocks of laptops and distribution of internet routers to disadvantaged learners happened far more quickly in Wales than in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Conference believes that:
- Those unable to access online learning resources and activities for financial or other reasons are at a significant disadvantage.
- Material should be readily available in all formats (including large print, audio and Braille).
- Internet connections vary across the country and can affect the usability and efficacy of some technologies.
- Every student should have access to online resources and up-to-date technology and software.
- Where modules are disrupted through emergencies such as COVID-19, colleges and universities should adopt a no-detriment policy when grading students.
Conference calls for:
- The government to offer universities funding to establish digital inclusion bursaries for items such tablets or laptops for students from disadvantaged families in order to help with home and remote learning.
- The government to ensure every disadvantaged family and students have access to broadband that would be sufficient enough for home learning, by requiring internet service providers to offer a social tariff for broadband.
- Universities to offer guidance on working and learning from home.
- Greater communication between Universities and government to allow them to deliver these bursaries.
- The use of 4G/5G routers as a temporary fix for places without a proper broadband infrastructure in order to improve internet access in parts of the country where internet speeds are slow.
Applicability: England only.
Mover: 7 minutes; summation of motion and movers and summation of any amendments: 4 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes.
For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 6.
The deadline for amendments to this motion is 13.00, Monday 8 March; see page 8. Amendments selected for debate will be published in the Conference Extra and Sunday Conference Daily updates to the Conference Agenda. The deadline for requests for separate votes is 09.30 Saturday 20 March; see page 5.