Government pledges free laptops to low-income families

11 Jan 2010
Father and son

Gordon Brown ressurects free laptops scheme in an effort to close digital divide

Gordon Brown has promised free laptops and broadband access to 270,000 low income families, as the Government looks to narrow the digital divide.

The scheme will be backed by a £300 million investment, and comes as the Government pushes schools to make reports on children available to parents online.

"We want every family to become a broadband family, and we want every home linked to a school. It will mean all families can come together, learn together and reap rewards together," Gordon Brown told attendees of an international education forum in Westminster.

We want every family to become a broadband family, and we want every home linked to a school

"We realise that for parents to influence and engage in the education of their children they need rich, varied and easily accessible information on the progress, behaviour and attendance of their children.

"So the mother who's worried about her son struggling with his reading can find out more about how she can help. Or the dad who works long hours and can't make a parents' evening can keep in touch with his daughter's progress, at whatever time of the day or night that he's free," he concluded.

The idea was first mooted in 2008 by former schools minister Jim Knight, but will be enshrined in the Children, Schools and Families Bill 2009/2010.

The Government has yet to confirm the criteria by which low-income families will be judged, though it will not be enough for children to qualify for free school meals - the Government's traditional benchmark.

Instead, the Department for Children, Schools and Families says that low-income families with children aged between seven and 14 will be eligible for the scheme, as will children with special needs and those in care.

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