Throughout the pandemic, the Government and I have stressed how important it is to keep schools open in order to minimise disruption to education. Due to recent concerns from teachers and medical experts, the Prime Minister has had to make the difficult decision to close schools.
Children of critical workers and vulnerable children will continue to have access to schools, in addition to children in Early Year's settings. If you are unsure whether you are considered a key worker or if your child is vulnerable, please do look to the government guidelines here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision
As part of the Government’s commitment that no child is left behind, it is providing a million laptops and tablets for schools to allocate locally to students who need them most. To date, it has delivered over 560,000 devices to councils in England, with students in West Sussex benefitting from the 395 devices provided to schools and colleges across West Sussex County Council (WSCC), with a further 100,000 arriving this week nationally. In tackling the barriers to remote learning for our most vulnerable students, over 54,0004G routers have tohave been delivered to schools and colleges in England, ensuring every child has internet access.
It is estimated that a million children across the UK do not have access to the internet and if they do, this is only via mobile data usage. There are two important steps the government have taken to help:
- Getting laptops and tablets to children who cannot attend school due to coronavirus (COVID-19)
The Department for Education (DfE) is providing laptops and tablets to schools to help children and families access remote education during coronavirus (COVID-19). We’re also helping disadvantaged children who need an internet connection to get internet access.
- providing hundreds of thousands more laptops and tablets – reaching a total of more than 1 million by the end of the academic year
- enabling all schools, colleges, trusts and local authorities to order devices before they experience disruption to face-to-face education
- supporting disadvantaged 16 to 19-year-olds in further education
DfE will provide more information to the schools, colleges, trusts and local authorities able to order these devices in the spring term 2021. We’ll continue to support schools experiencing disruption as a priority.
Schools will be able to order an allocation of devices for:
- disadvantaged children in years 3 to 11 who do not have access to a device and whose face-to-face education is disrupted
- disadvantaged children in any year group who have been advised to shield because they (or someone they live with) are clinically extremely vulnerable
- disadvantaged children in any year group attending a hospital school
This offer applies to maintained schools, pupil referral units, academy trusts and hospital schools, as well as sixth-form colleges who have enrolled 14 to 16-year-olds.
Disadvantaged children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are included within this offer. Parents, carers and pupils cannot apply for digital devices or internet access through this scheme themselves. They should contact their school to discuss requirements for accessing remote education.
To read more about this initiative, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-laptops-and-tablets-for-children-who-cannot-attend-school-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19
- Increasing data allowances on mobile devices to support disadvantaged children
This scheme temporarily increases data allowances for mobile phone users on certain networks. This is so that children and young people can access remote education if their face-to-face education is disrupted.
Schools, trusts and local authorities can request mobile data increases for children and young people who:
- do not have fixed broadband at home
- cannot afford additional data for their devices
- are experiencing disruption to their face-to-face education
Children with access to a mobile phone on one of the following networks might be able to benefit:
- Virgin Mobile
- Tesco Mobile
- Sky Mobile
Schools, trusts and local authorities can request mobile data increases when schools report a closure or have pupils self-isolating.
They can also make requests for children who cannot attend school face-to-face because:
- they’re clinically extremely vulnerable
- restrictions prevent them from going to school
To find out exactly how you can request a mobile data increase please visit: https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk/about-increasing-mobile-data