Make Education More Accessible to Students With Limited Internet Access

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Every year, a young carer will miss, on average, 48 days of school.

Over the course of five years in secondary education, they will miss an average of 240 days of their education, with many missing much, much more over the course of their twelve- to fourteen-year education under the age of eighteen.

Yet, schools aren't accommodating of this; according to surveys conducted by the Carers Trust, only half of carers under the age of eighteen would say that there was someone within their place of education who is there to support and care for them. Furthermore, they aren't accommodating of most students who aren't from what we would consider to be a 'normal', middle-class background.

1500 schools, globally, use ShowMyHomework, over four million students use MyMaths, and one million use MathsWatch. Although planting education- homework, especially- firmly into the modern world may seem innovative and, to an extent, does make it more accessible, faster and less likely to be neglected by students and their parents/guardians, it does put other, less privileged students at a disadvantage.

Students who don't have internet access- or don't have time to complete tasks set online when they do have internet access (young carers in particular)- are immediately set behind those who do, with staying behind, or handing tasks in late viewed as punishment for those particular students, by both their teachers and their peers. Not only that, but with young carers being hit especially hard by the current surge in online homework, studying and the reduction in many school's funding allocations towards their [non-fiction] libraries, they are doubly hit by being unable to stay behind to do that work on those 240 days. This, ultimately, (according to the Carer's Trust) makes it so that young carers tend to achieve lower grades at GCSE than their peers- with twice as many 16-18 year old carers not in education or employment than those who don't have dependants. 

Not being in education or employment, or lower grades, as well as frequent punishment for not being able to hand in tasks on time can lead to high levels of stress, anxiety and sleep disorders, amongst other mental health issues- young carers, of course, are more susceptible to these, yet only 27% received some form of counselling in the last year.

For that reason, I implore that work set by schools for completion outside of school hours becomes more accessible, otherwise a vicious cycle of not being able to study or do homework and therefore achieving lower grades than their potential will continue to target students without internet access, or those with limited internet access- particularly students from poorer backgrounds as well as many young carers. 

This issue can be tackled in multiple ways, such as allowing students to have physical copies of homework (something that, unfortunately, cannot be done with resources such as MyMaths, broadening the non-fiction sections of school libraries, providing more physical resources for students (such as textbooks and revision guides) as well as making more allowances & less punishments for students who typically wouldn't be able to complete the work set and allowing for more focused tutoring within school for disadvantaged youths.

As well as this, I ask that both local councils and local schools become more conscious of the presence of young carers within the community, by allowing for focused study or revision time for them within school. In addition they should provide support for them and make sure that every school's staff is aware of what a young carer is, does and how they can support and understand what they're going through and makes sure that every young carer has the resources that they need to catch up on those 48 days of the year that they, perhaps, may miss.