CALLS have been made to ensure pupils from poorer backgrounds have access to computers and internet while schools are closed to stop them from missing out on education.

Concerns have been raised that while education for many children in Middlesbrough has moved online, not everyone has access to tablets, laptops and the internet.

Councillor Craig Wright, Labour’s spokesperson for education and skills and primary school co-chair of governors, said: "I am aware of this difficult position that Middlesbrough Council finds itself in – they must educate all children of the town remotely but without funding from central government to support them.

"But, education is the greatest driver of social mobility and we cannot leave our children behind simply because their parents cannot afford access to laptops and internet.”

He is calling on the council to ensure all children have access to a laptop and to the internet for the duration of the lockdown.

Nationally, there has been a call for the Government to provide support to ensure the provision of adequate internet connections and IT equipment to children from poor or vulnerable backgrounds while schools remain closed.

As a result of the closures, many parents are trying to teach their children at home, using resources set by teachers on platforms like Google Classroom and Hegarty Maths.

Mr Wright said many children were sharing tablets or laptops with working parents and siblings or using mobile phones, making it more difficult for those children to learn.

He added: "We should, and must, do more to protect our town’s children from falling behind and help our parents to support their child’s education.

"It is morally imperative.”

Steps have already been taken to try and ensure children who are eligible for free school meals are able to access food while schools are closed.

About 9,600 children in the borough are currently in receipt of free school meals, above the average of the rest of England.