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Shadow Schools Minister: New online learning academy must not add to household bills

Stephen Morgan MP pushed Ministers in the House of Commons today to confirm that access to the government’s new online Oak National Academy services would not add to the cost-of-living crisis families across the country are facing.

It was reported last week that Oak National Academy is to be made into a new government arm’s-length body designed to provide free curriculum resources to schools across the UK.

Tes revealed that Oak would remain free until spring 2022 and had received a further £2.1 million in government funding to “stay open” until the end of the current spring term to “support Covid-19 resilience and teacher workload”.

Meanwhile, as the cost-of-living crisis continues to grip the country, Ofcom’s recent affordability report found that 1.1 million households are struggling to afford broadband.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has also warned digital exclusion is more likely to be faced by those on low incomes, people over 65 and disabled people.

According to the House of Commons Library, Portsmouth South only has 38.4% gigabit broadband availability, 7.3% lower than the UK average of 45.7%.

It comes as the Portsmouth MP continues to tackle loneliness in the city and bridge the ‘digital divide’, after many vulnerable families with no affordable digital tools or skills were cut-off from the outside world over the last two years.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and Shadow Schools Minister, Stephen Morgan, said:

“It’s welcome that government has embraced this innovation from teachers with this important step, but struggling families need certainty that this will not add to their already skyrocketing bills because of the Tory cost-of-living crisis.

“After an unprecedented level of disruption to children’s learning over the last two years, inequalities must not be further widened by students being unfairly priced out of the education they need and deserve.

“I will continue to push Ministers to ensure no child is left behind in accessing essential digital learning and skills and every effort is made to bridge the digital divide.”