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Thousands of schools to benefit from ground-breaking partnership with tech giants to support home learning

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Thousands of schools to benefit from technical support to start using @Google and @Microsoft education platforms 

Thousands of schools will benefit from a ground-breaking partnership with tech giants to gain access to education platforms.

Expert technical support to access Google and Microsoft’s education platforms, along with free training on how to use the resources most effectively, will be available for schools immediately. This will include online resources, support getting set up, webinars and peer to peer support between schools.

This follows the Government’s pledge to provide laptops and tablets for vulnerable and disadvantaged young people across England.

The Government has committed over £100 million to boost remote education, including by providing devices and internet access for those who need it most, ensuring every school that wants it has access to free, expert technical support to get set up on Google for Education or Microsoft’s Office 365 Education, and offering peer support from schools and colleges leading the way with the use of education technology.

Today (Friday 24 April), the Government has written to local authorities, trusts and other relevant organisations overseeing schools and children’s social care outlining the process for ordering the devices. The Government has already placed a bulk order and organisations will be able to register to receive their allocation from today, while institutions that administer the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund will be able to apply for a top-up.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

“As schools, parents and children adapt to the changing environment we are all faced with, it is vital that we provide them with the right support so young people are able to continue their education. 

“Through close partnership with the education sector and two of the world’s biggest tech companies, we are working to ensure that children can continue their studies while they are at home.

“Laptops and tablets for vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils are on their way and will begin being distributed in weeks, enabling those most in need to access online resources.”

To further support schools and colleges in delivering the best possible remote education, twenty institutions with outstanding technology practices have been awarded between £70,000 and £150,000 through the EdTech Demonstrators programme.

The programme was announced last year to boost peer-to-peer support on the effective use of technology and has now been tailored to help schools and colleges provide education remotely. The reach of this programme will be expanded over the coming weeks, and schools and colleges can register their interest in receiving support from today.

Guidance for schools on choosing the right education platform to meet their needs will be hosted by The Key, including best practice case studies and myth busting. The guidance will walk schools through the key assets of both Google and Microsoft’s platforms and provide an option to register for Government-funded expert support in getting these platforms set up.

Liz Sproat, Head of Education, Google EMEA:“This is a challenging time for UK schools, educators, parents and students and this initiative by the Department for Education provides vital support to schools seeking to enable remote learning.

“We are delighted that our suite of tools, resources and our partners can help schools maintain learning during these difficult times.”

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Cindy Rose, CEO Microsoft UK, said:

“Schools across the UK are facing unprecedented challenges as their staff demonstrate incredible resilience, imagination and passion to ensure children are safe and able to keep learning while at home. We’re proudly working with the Department for Education to support the roll out of remote learning technology to those who need it. For some time now, Microsoft has offered Office 365 for Education free for schools and we continue working on a number of fronts to support the education community with the latest technology during this difficult time.”

The Government has committed over £100 million – this includes supplying devices and connectivity to disadvantaged and vulnerable children, top-up to the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund, expert technical support to access online education platforms and peer-to-peer support through the Demonstrators programme.

Local authorities, trusts and other relevant organisations overseeing schools and social care can apply for devices. These organisations have been sent information on how to order a device.

Schools can apply through The Key for School Leaders for Government-funded support to get set up on one of two free-to-use digital education platforms: G Suite for Education or Office 365 Education.

More information about the peer-to-peer support programme, including the use of technology to support remote learning, can be found on the LGFL website.

Schools are responsible for ensuring that safeguarding rules are met. Further information is available in DfE’s safeguarding guidance and guidance on providing remote education during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Guidance from the National Cyber Security Centre about how to use video conferencing services securely is also available.

Schools can call the free Professionals Online Safety Helpline which supports the online safeguarding of both children and professionals.

Parents looking for more advice on keeping children safe online can refer to National Crime Agency guidance: Video chatting – a guide for protecting primary school age children and Video chatting – a guide for protecting secondary school age children

Everyone can access new government advice to help people, particularly children, stay safe online during the coronavirus outbreak. It sets out a four-point plan and recommends reviewing security and safety settings, checking facts and guarding against disinformation, being vigilant against fraud and scams, and managing the amount of time spent online. 

This afternoon, the UK Government has announced updates to its plans to help schools deliver remote learning, with the support of technology vendors including Microsoft.

Following plans to invest in devices and 4G routers for disadvantaged pupils announced earlier last week, key points around the new updates include:

  • Thousands of Primary and secondary schools that don’t have a digital education platform will be able to apply for funding to receive technology to support remote learning along with free training on how to use resources effectively
  • The scheme is supported by technology vendors including Microsoft, who will connect schools with accredited partners who can help them to start using Office 365 Education
  • Office 365 Education contains Microsoft Teams, web editions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, plus additional classroom tools
  • Guidance for schools on choosing the right education platform to meet their needs will be hosted by The Key, including best practice and case studies
  • Microsoft’s involvement builds on the company’s recent announcement that its FastTrack team will provide free support to education customers so they can embrace remote learning
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