By Olivia Myers
The number of pupils attending a secondary school in Shrewsbury during the latest lockdown has tripled in comparison to the first UK lockdown in March, an FOI request has revealed.
Shrewsbury Academy, part of the Marches Academy Trust, saw a 282% increase in the number of pupils, classed as vulnerable or those of key workers, attending the school in person between both lockdown periods.
The UK’s third lockdown has seen all schools and colleges close until March 8.
There are currently 42 pupils at the school compared to just 11 back in March 2020.
Shrewsbury Academy Operations Manager Ellie Evans said: “We do not know why there has been an increase in numbers, but it is clear the numbers have increased in all areas across the school.
“We will continue to do our best to protect staff and pupils in school through carrying out regular risk assessments, temperature checks and of course are constantly keeping a close eye on updates to government guidelines.”
The Digital Divide
The Department of Education has changed the classification of key workers this year to include a wider variety of jobs, so more pupils now qualify to attend school.
It has also reclassified vulnerable pupils since the last lockdown, now including pupils who lack digital devices and workplaces in the home for remote learning. They were not allowed to attend school in person during lockdown last year, but now can.
Concerns have been raised about whether schools will have the capacity to teach more than a million children across England who fall into this category.
A government scheme announced in April 2020 enabled Year 10 pupils and those with social workers without access to a computer for remote learning to apply online to receive free internet access and laptops.
However, just over a third of children eligible for the scheme actually benefited from it, figures from the Children’s Commissioner for England have revealed.
Despite 540,000 children being eligible, just 220,000 laptops were delivered by August, meaning 63% of children could have missed out on the scheme.
Toby, a year 10 pupil who was a recipient of a free laptop to aid his learning, said: “For me it was really important to be able to access the right technology for online lessons.
“I don’t think it would be fair for me to not do as well as my classmates in my GCSE’s just because of my family’s circumstances.
“I would feel really sorry for anyone like me who wasn’t able to get the help I did, I don’t know how I could partake in lessons properly otherwise.”