Digital devices and internet access for disadvantaged students

A new package to support online learning has been announced by the Department for Education.

techUK has been working with an Industry Coalition lead by RM Education to support the Department for Education in providing vulnerable and disadvantaged young people digital devices and online learning to support their remote education during COVID-19.

The Department for Education, in partnership with technology suppliers, is to provide free digital devices such as laptops and tablets for disadvantaged secondary school pupils who are preparing for key exams (such as year 10 students), care leavers, and children with social workers who do not already have them. They are also planning support for schools to access online platforms where teachers can set and collect work from pupils and providing training on using remote education resources. Schools and colleges will be able to keep their laptops and tablets once they have reopened.

The Government will also provide internet access with 4G routers to make sure secondary school pupils and care leavers can access the internet–where those families do not already have mobile or broadband internet in the household. Major telecommunications providers will make it easier for families to access selected educational resources by temporarily exempting these sites from data charges.

The importance of getting people online during this difficult time cannot be understated. Free devices will enable young people to keep up with their schooling and stay connected with their teachers and class. Education providers have been providing many resources such as online learning packs which can be used at home, but now it can be accessed to support their remote education while social distancing and will continue helping them learn in the future.

Local authorities, trusts and other relevant organisations overseeing schools will be given guidance on how to place online orders for devices for eligible pupils from Wednesday 22 April. Schools, parents and pupils will not be able to order the devices themselves.

DevicesDotNow also is coordinating wider industry action in the similar mission to ensure that people are not digital excluded and can participate online safely. They are targeting the 1.9 million households who don’t have access to the internet to get them smartphones and laptops, as well as connectivity in the form of sims, dongles and mobile hotspots from business donations. Get involved here.