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Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
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Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
UK News

Christian MP accuses Govt of overlooking children in the North as school closures impact the disadvantaged

by Heather Preston

A Christian MP has signed an open letter to the education secretary warning that England's north-south divide could widen while classrooms remain closed during lockdown.

More than 50 MPs and peers have called for urgent action to prevent poorer students from falling behind after new figures revealed two-thirds of secondary schools teaching disadvantaged communities are in the north of England.

Parliamentarians have demanded additional funding to provide one-on-one tuition to pupils from low income homes when they return to school.

The letter has requested that secondary school pupils that qualify for free school meals receive a 'catch up premium' of £700 per pupil to help close the education gap.

Signee Emma Lewell-Buck is a Christian and Labour MP for South Shields. 

She told Premier children in the North East are in vital need of government investment, particularly following the school closures: "We have some of the best teachers and the brightest children yet our government has consistently failed to adequately invest in our schools and our children.

"We are acutely aware that we have the highest percent of children on free school meals and that our children are already falling behind their peers."

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has committed to providing laptops to the poorest students, as well as making more online resources available. 

Speaking to a committee of MPs on Wednesday, he also confirmed that there were no plans to run schools through the summer holidays and that the reopening of schools would take place in a 'phased manner'.

Lewell-Buck welcomes the support of additional devices and resources but argues that "nothing can substitute that face to face teaching." 

"When our children return, they deserve better and I won't stop until they get it," she warned.

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