522,000 children in the UK will miss out on their education in 2021 because of factors beyond their control, according to new research published today by ‘warm technology’ company No Isolation (@_NoIsolation). This means that for every two classrooms, there are three empty desks.
Launching their campaign today – Back to school but not for all – No Isolation is urging the Secretary of State for Education, The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE, to finish what he promised last year and produce a national data-set on the number of children not receiving an adequate education due to long-term absence from school. No Isolation is also urging Local Authorities across the UK to ensure that a child’s social needs are met and not just focus on their educational needs.
No Isolation is the innovative company behind AV1 – the robot avatar that acts as a child’s eyes, ears and voice in the classroom when illness, disability or mental health conditions prevent them from being there in person. The robot was developed in collaboration with children, teachers, scientists, families and the St Olav Hospital School. In the UK, over 30 Local Authorities enable over 500 young people to use AV1.
The alarming figure of 522,000 includes children and young people of compulsory school age (5 – 16) who have long-term medical conditions, those who are ‘persistent absentees’ with Special Educational Needs (SEND), those who are home-schooled and those who have been impacted by Covid-19 or anxiety.
Libby Harvey, whose son Alexanda has a range of complex, life-limiting, medical needs and uses an AV1 robot in his classroom, said:
“These figures are shocking but not surprising unfortunately. Throughout Alexanda’s education I have always been really worried about the amount of school time he has missed because of long stays in hospital, specialist appointments in London and tests galore. It is so important that children and young people who cannot be in school full-time are catered for and not forgotten.
“Since Alexanda started using his AV1 robot a few months ago, it has already had a real impact on his learning and basically allows him to be in two places at once – in his hospital bed and in his classroom at the same time. And it has also helped him keep in contact with his peers and this is a vital part of children growing up.”
No Isolation’s UK Director, Harriet Gridley, said:
“This week children will return to school. But, sadly, not all. No parent or carer should have to fight for their child’s right to an education. It is vital that we have a national database of the children in this situation to ensure that their needs are properly provided for.
The negative educational and social consequences can be life-long for children who miss out on long-term education. We have developed the right, secure, technology to bridge this gap but there is still a postcode lottery dictating whether a child gets access to an adequate provision, such as an AV1 robot, or not.”