Equal opportunities for learning UK Government Home Access Programme narrows the digital divide by giving children and families home access to technology Rt. Hon. Lord Knight of Weymouth Formerly Minister of State for Schools and Learners, Department for Children, Schools, and Families, UK The Rt. Hon. Lord Knight of Weymouth spearheaded the conception and delivery of the Home Access Programme, a pioneering UK Government initiative to provide home Internet access for low-income families with learners. Successful completion of this project was one of the proudest moments in Lord Knight’s career, since it aimed to provide all students with an equal opportunity to succeed in their learning. The thinking behind it “Increasingly, research has shown that home Internet access makes significant gains in education and bridging the digital divide,” explains Lord Knight. “Children who are able to access the World Wide Web from home are more likely to do better in subjects like math and may also get better exam results.” More recent evidence shows that children with technology at home could improve performance in one General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) subject by up to two grades, which means pupils 1 who would have gotten a D could now get a B. And it's not just in the classroom where it matters. Children who lack computer access are more likely to leave school at 16 and possibly may not reach 2 their desired occupation or earning potential as a result. “If a student gains five A* to C grade GCSEs, they can earn as much as 17 percent more than workers with no qualifications – or an extra GBP 150,000 over a lifetime's work,” explains Lord Knight. “The Office of National Statistics has shown that if children have a computer at home, which they use for school- work, they are more likely to gain over five GCSEs and one A-Level, and improve grades attained. “Bearing in mind this evidence, it was clear to us that we had to do something to provide all pupils with equal opportunity to learn and succeed, both at school and beyond,” says Lord Knight. “We had already taken huge steps forward to increase technology use within schools, such as encouraging use of interactive whiteboards, so extending this ethos to the home was the next logical step.” “Government and teachers had already worked hard to increase technology use within schools, such as encouraging use of interactive whiteboards. Extending this ethos to the home to further improve learning was the next logical step.” Rt. Hon. Lord Knight of Weymouth Formerly Minister of State for Schools and Learners Department for Children, Schools, and Families At a Glance Project • Bring home Internet access to around 200,000 children from disadvantaged families. Accomplishments • Government, private, and voluntary sectors worked together to devise a unique retail model. • Secured a GBP 300 million (USD 480 million) investment from the UK Treasury. • Completed pilots with two local authorities, reaching 93 percent of eligible families. • Benefitted 267,244 families nationwide. Read the full JOURNEY TO HOME INTERNET ACCESS.