The BBC will provide the “biggest education offer in its history” in a bid to ensure homebound children without internet access can keep learning.
From next week, the BBC will run a three-block of primary school programming on CBBC from 9am – including BBC Live Lessons and BBC Bitesize Daily, as well as other educational programming such as Our School and Celebrity Supply Teacher.
BBC Two will provide at least two hours of content each weekday for secondary students to support the GCSE curriculum.
Bitesize Daily primary and secondary will also air every day on BBC Red Button as well as episodes being available on demand on BBC iPlayer.
Tim Davie, BBC director general, said: “Ensuring children across the UK have the opportunity to continue to follow the appropriate core parts of their nation’s school curriculum has been a key priority for the BBC throughout this past year.
“Education is absolutely vital – the BBC is here to play its part and I’m delighted that we have been able to bring this to audiences so swiftly.”
Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said: “The BBC has helped the nation through some of the toughest moments of the last century, and for the next few weeks it will help our children learn whilst we stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.
“This will be a lifeline to parents and I welcome the BBC playing its part.”
Prime minister Boris Johnson said at the coronavirus briefing this evening that the “government is doing everything we can to help with remote learning”.
Analysis by the Oak National Academy of Ofcom data shows that up to 913,000 children can only access the internet using mobile data, while up to 559,000 children have no access to the internet at all.
Matt Hood, the principal of the government-backed online learning platform, said this week that moves to remote education “must be matched by support to make sure every child has access to a laptop and internet data”.
“The cost of internet access to the poorest families is the single biggest issue that is preventing all children being able to access learning during lockdown. What’s more, once again it’s the poorest families that are hit hardest, with the risk of being locked out of lockdown learning altogether. We simply cannot allow this digital divide to determine the education that children receive – we need a universal solution and we need it now.
“It’s time for the big four Telecoms firms to step up and do their bit. It’s very simple: make education sites zero-rated. This cannot happen soon enough and we would urge them to do the right thing and to do it quickly.”
It follows calls from a group of politicians to address the digital divide.