From education to employment

Digital Inclusion in the Education Sector


In an era where the digital landscape shapes our daily lives, the widening gap of digital exclusion in the UK is a critical concern. Defined by the Digital Poverty Alliance as the inability to interact fully with the online world when, where, and how needed, digital poverty affects one in five children in the UK. This pressing issue, especially prevalent within the education sector, demands urgent and decisive action.

The Severity of Digital Exclusion

The severity of the situation is underscored by the Nominet Digital Youth Index report for 2023, revealing that four per cent of young people across the UK, totalling two million individuals, lack access to essential learning devices like laptops or desktop computers. Moreover, nearly 570,000 young people lack both a learning device and a home internet connection, with 15 per cent devoid of broadband access at home. This glaring lack of access impedes their ability to participate fully in educational activities, placing them at a significant disadvantage compared to their peers.

The Potential and Challenges of Digital Technology in Education

While digital technology has the potential to transform education, it also underscores the digital divide. Digital technology enhances student engagement through multimedia content, gamified learning platforms, and online forums. These tools foster interest and participation in learning, catering to diverse needs by incorporating adaptive platforms and assistive technologies, ensuring inclusivity for students with disabilities through features like closed captioning and screen readers. However, the integration of digital technology in education also requires that teachers have the necessary skills and access to suitable technology.

The Need for Teacher Support

A survey conducted by the Digital Poverty Alliance as part of its Tech4Teachers programme highlights this need. Approximately 700 teachers across 200 schools reported high levels of digital exclusion among teaching staff. In total, 47% of those surveyed did not have suitable technology to enable them to teach remotely, revealing a large unmet need for teachers to access devices to benefit their students’ education. Efforts are underway to combat digital exclusion, with initiatives like the Tech4Teachers programme addressing these disparities.

Combating Digital Exclusion

By providing teachers with the necessary technology and training, this project seeks to ensure that educators are well-equipped to deliver digital education effectively. This is crucial, as teachers need support with skills and techniques to embed digital learning into the curriculum, ensuring that all students can benefit from advancements in educational technology. By championing digital inclusion, we confront the immediate challenges of the digital divide in the UK and pave the way for a future where digital participation is accessible to all.

A Call to Action

Our call to action is driven by the conviction that in our era, access to the digital realm is not just advantageous – it is imperative for the UK’s progress and cohesion. At the Digital Poverty Alliance, we lead efforts to address this issue. Our advocacy for systemic reforms is grounded in the belief that digital access and literacy are fundamental to building a fair and equitable society. Our mission emphasises the need for a comprehensive national strategy to ensure every individual can navigate, contribute to, and benefit from the digital landscape.

A Multi-Faceted Approach

To promote digital inclusion effectively, a multi-faceted approach is necessary. This includes providing adequate devices and internet connectivity, especially for underserved communities. Equally important is equipping young people with the digital skills they need now and in the future. Schools must incorporate digital literacy into their curricula, ensuring that students are not only consumers of technology but also creators and innovators. Moreover, partnerships between government, the private sector, and non-profit organisations are vital. Collaborative efforts can help scale up initiatives like Tech4Teachers and similar programmes, ensuring widespread access to technology and digital education.


The urgency of addressing digital poverty cannot be overstated. As we navigate the digital age, ensuring that every young person has the tools and skills to thrive is essential for the UK’s future. By bridging the digital divide, we not only enhance educational outcomes but also empower the next generation to lead and innovate in an increasingly digital world. The time to act is now, and the education sector must be at the forefront of this transformative journey.

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