How schools can access digital devices for children requiring access to remote education due to shielding or local coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

The Department for Education (DfE) is providing laptops and tablets to help children and families access remote education during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

This offer is in addition to 200,000 devices and 4G wireless routers already distributed during May to July 2020 by DfE to local authorities and trusts for pupils in year 10, care leavers and young people with a social worker.

Devices will be available for disadvantaged children in certain year groups who are affected by disruption to face to face education at their school, or have been advised to shield because they are clinically extremely vulnerable.

There is also support available for those requiring internet access through free BT wifi hotspots and increased mobile data allowances.

Information for parents and carers

Parents, carers and pupils cannot apply for internet access or digital devices through this scheme themselves. You should contact your school to discuss your requirements for accessing remote education.

Support for children with special educational needs and disabilities is available through Family Fund. 16 to 19-year-olds from disadvantaged households may be eligible for support through the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund.

Information for schools, academy trusts and local authorities

Read information, guidance and support for teachers and leaders on educating children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

In the event of a disruption to face to face education at schools due to coronavirus (COVID-19), DfE can provide devices to help children and young people who are otherwise unable to access remote education.

Examples of this include:

  • children with no digital devices in their household
  • children whose only available device is a smartphone
  • children with a single device in their household that’s being shared with more than one other family member

Schools, maintained schools, academy trusts, hospital schools and further education providers who have enrolled 14 to 16-year-olds are included within this offer. They will receive an allocation of devices to be used to support the following groups if they do not have access to a digital device through other means:

  • pupils in years 3 to 11
  • clinically extremely vulnerable children across all year groups who are shielding or self-isolating on official advice
  • children in all year groups unable to access remote education whilst attending school on a hospital site

Device orders can be placed when:

The criteria for device allocations will be continually reviewed to ensure support is offered in the most effective way in relation to the extent of lockdown restrictions and the number of devices available.

Young people in years 12 and 13 are not included within this scheme. These students may be eligible for support through the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund.

Support is available to families through Family Fund for specialist equipment for children who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

How digital devices can be requested

Before the start of the autumn term, local authorities and academy trusts in England will be contacted to request details of people within each school who would be responsible for placing orders if required. Academy trusts will have the option to manage the ordering process on behalf of the schools they are responsible for.

All nominated contacts will receive detailed instructions for how to place an order in the event of a local coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that affects their school(s) or pupils. Allocation of devices will be assessed at the time of ordering based on availability and the extent of coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreaks.

To minimise disruption for those requiring access to remote education, devices will be delivered to schools within 2 working days of an order being confirmed, subject to stock availability.

Once delivered by DfE, all devices will be fully owned by the schools or academy trusts who receive them. It will be the responsibility of the school to loan the devices to those who need them.

Connectivity support for disadvantaged children is available through free BT wifi hotspots and increased mobile data allowances.

Device setup and management

Before distributing devices, schools will need to ensure:

  • devices are set up to access remote education. Through The Key for School Leaders, schools can access a grant offer for free set up of either G Suite for Education or Office 365 and Teams for Education.
  • appropriate safeguarding controls and support are in place to help children and families use devices safely.

Should an issue arise with a faulty device, instructions will be provided with each device explaining how to arrange a repair or replacement under warranty terms.

Help and support with technology is available through the EdTech Demonstrator Programme, providing access to a network of schools and colleges who are already using remote education technology resources.

Getting devices to children and young people

After receiving your devices and preparing them for use by children, you can:

  • arrange for them to be collected by families from school
  • organise for them to be delivered to children’s and care leavers’ homes

All distribution and return of loan devices should be done in accordance with the social distancing guidelines relevant to your local area.

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