Councils face lawsuits over lockdown education access

The Good Law Project has stressed that the government must ensure pupils from poor backgrounds have computers and internet connections during the coronavirus lockdown or face legal action.

The group of legal activists argue that the widespread reliance on online learning during the lockdown is illegally disadvantaging state school pupils who lack access to tablets, laptops or adequate broadband. This has been exacerbated by any internet access they might have had through schools, libraries or cafes having been cut off by the coronavirus crisis. The Good Law Project says it will sue local authorities for depriving children of their education to try to push the government into action.

If successful, the move could mean the courts force the government to ensure the provision of adequate internet connections and IT equipment to hundreds of thousands of children from poor or vulnerable backgrounds while the lockdown continues and schools remain closed.

The Good Law Project is already backing legal action against the London Borough of Southwark on behalf of parents whose children attend state schools in the area, arguing that it has failed to meet its legal obligations.

Jolyon Maugham, the Good Law Project’s founder, told the Guardian: “Local authorities in England have a clear obligation to ensure that all children can access teaching, so there’s a very strong claim against them to ensure that they are doing so. Remember that the government hasn’t closed schools down, and because they are still teaching online then children who can’t access that teaching are missing out and likely to fall behind their peers. And that’s what we want to stop happening.”