Legal challenge to the government’s failure to ensure all disadvantaged children can access online education during the coronavirus crisis

Almost a month after schools closed their doors, the government announced a ‘major package to support online learning’ by providing laptops and internet access to disadvantaged children. Despite the claim that this support will “enable all children to continue learning now”, in fact only care-leavers, children with social workers and year 10 students are eligible for this help. The narrowness of the scheme means that thousands of disadvantaged children will remain unable to access online learning because they will be ineligible for this support.

Matthew Gold and Company represent children in four low-income families who since the coronavirus crisis have received little or no education because they cannot access the online teaching provided as they cannot afford to buy computers and/or internet.

We have now taken the first steps in initiating legal proceedings by sending a ‘letter before claim’ to the government challenging the eligibility criteria for laptop and/internet support and the failure to ensure all disadvantaged children receive some education whilst schools are closed.

The claimants are represented by Clare Jennings and Olivia Halse in the Public Law department at Matthew Gold and Company.

Solicitor Clare Jennings says:

“We understand that these are challenging times and recognise that the government has taken some steps, albeit belatedly, to address the needs of some disadvantaged children. But the reality is that unless they do more, thousands of children will continue to miss out on education, widening the gap between disadvantaged children and their more affluent peers. We hope that the government will respond positively to the letter before claim and provide resources to ensure that all children can access online learning”.

Notes to editor

  1. The government’s announcement of laptop and internet support can be found here:
  2. For further information please contact Clare Jennings and Olivia Halse at and or on 02084459268.

 The Guardian’s article on the challenge can be read here.