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Closing the Digital Divide for Good report
The challenge of digital exclusion is not a new one. However, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic – and subsequent school closures – shone a spotlight on the importance of digital inclusion for children and young people across the UK.
This joint report from Carnegie UK Trust and UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) sets out why and how the UK Government should continue its work to close the digital divide. Through exploring the pre-COVID-19 context, analysing and assessing the emergency response during the pandemic, proposing a definition and measurement for digital inclusion, and setting out a 10-point action plan for ending digital exclusion, this report comprehensively sets out how to close the digital divide for all, and for good.
The 10-point action plan details the following actions:
Undertake a comprehensive review of online safeguarding and privacy guidance for educators and schools, updating the relevant policy accordingly.
Undertake a comprehensive review of online safeguarding and privacy legislation for education technology companies, utilising the Online Safety Bill to further reduce the possibility of harm to children and their rights.
Undertake a comprehensive and public review of COVID-19 emergency initiatives to gather lessons learned and inform best practices for the future.
Work with teachers and education staff to identify gaps in skills and support, using this to revisit national teacher training requirements and curricula, develop Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities for educators to strengthen their digital skills and pedagogy, and improve support to schools.
Work with children, young people, parents, school staff, civil society, and technology providers to establish a shared definition of digital inclusion including a measurable minimum standard, and commitment to a regular review process.
Establish a consistent, accurate, and regular system of data reporting on the level of digital exclusion amongst our children and young people in the UK.
Undertake research to better understand the drivers of digital exclusion and how to address these, with a focus on key data gaps including experiences of young people with disabilities and young people from ethnic minority communities.
Develop guidance and resources to establish a local authority level digital inclusion tracker which identifies digitally excluded children and young people.
Deliver a fully-funded long-term strategy for how the Department for Education will work across Government to tackle digital exclusion for all young people with clear actions, targets, and timelines.
Work with children, parents, school staff, social workers to develop a monitoring and evaluation framework for the long-term strategy that addresses the additional number of children online, academic outcomes, and children’s confidence and experience online.