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DfE to provide free apps for disadvantaged children

21/02/19

UKA Correspondent

Disadvantaged families are to be given free access to a collection of children’s educational apps for smartphones and tablets.

Group of young children sitting on floor

The Department for Education (DfE) has unveiled plans to buy subscriptions for a selection of high quality apps and make them available for children aged between two and four in up to 12 pilot areas in England.

The move is aimed at encouraging parents to think about how to ensure their children’s screen time is spent constructively.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “When it comes to children and technology – that’s where a manual can be helpful.

“Not all screen time is created equal: on one side there are the pressures that come with social media and the time spent looking at a screen, which is a key worry for parents – but on the other, the power of technology and the internet can open up a whole new world when embraced properly.

“But it’s also difficult to navigate and often expensive, so I want to support parents of all backgrounds to feel able to embrace its benefits and use it in a measured, sensible way that helps improve children’s early development at home.”

Quality criteria

Last month the Government announced the appointment of a new advisory panel, chaired by Professor Jackie Marsh of the University of Sheffield, to draw up a set of criteria for assessing the quality of educational apps.

Marsh said at the time: “There is a need to identify the features of high quality apps that support their learning and to offer parents, carers and teachers guidance on how to select and use apps effectively. The Government has rightly identified this as a priority.”

Hinds also announced a group of trial programmes to support families in the north of England, one of which involves sending three texts per week to parents of four- and five-year-olds to encourage activities that help develop literacy, numeracy and socio-emotional skills.

Image by daveparker, CC BY 2.0, flickr

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