Jersey's Children's Commissioner: Some children still don't have technology needed for home learning

Deborah McMillan says there is uncertainty over whose responsibility it is and the issue must be addressed. Credit: PA

Jersey's Children's Commissioner says some young people in Jersey still do not have the technology they need for home learning. Deborah McMillan says there is uncertainty over whose responsibility it is and the issue must be addressed.

Issues around digital exclusion must be directly addressed during this period. We know that some students still do not have access to the necessary technology to undertake home learning, and yet there seems to be continuing debate and uncertainty around whose responsibility this is.

Deborah McMillan, Jersey's Children's Commissioner

She also called for the immediate publication of minimum standards for online learning, in the form of written guidance, so that there can be a consistent offer across all schools in the island for when pupils are unable to attend school.

First and foremost would be the provision of a clear and unified message from politicians – something I hope to see in the immediate future. There is enough chaos in young people’s lives at the moment, without the added confusion of mixed messages from our island’s leaders.

Deborah McMillan, Jersey's Children's Commissioner

She told ITV News that while the island was not yet at a "last resort" point of closing schools, they should be prepared for that change if necessary.

Her comments are echoed by the children's charity, the NSPCC which has received thousands of calls since the start of lockdown.

Since the beginning of lockdown last May, the charity took nearly 43,000 calls, mostly related to anxiety.

Many of the issues involved being off school for prolonged periods, missing exams and seminal events like the school prom.

The charity also found that many young people didn't want to share their worries with families because of concerns that they would exacerbate already-stressful situations involving work, home schooling and finances.

The lockdown has been really crippling for some people. We know that home is not a safe place for all children, so as a children protection organisation we would prefer they are in school if it is safe to do so. And we need families and teachers to look for signs of anxiety.

Helen Westerwood, Head of Local Campaigns, NSPCC