Today I am announcing that the Government are providing a further 500,000 laptops and tablets. These devices will be available to disadvantaged children and young people via their school and college, to care leavers and young people supported by a social worker and to recently arrived children from Afghanistan. This is on top of the significant investment of over 1.3 million devices we have already provided and will support schools, colleges and local authorities in ensuring that all children and young people, regardless of their background, can achieve their potential. Providing more devices now will also increase our capacity to mitigate the effect of any disruption this winter.
Laptops and tablets distributed by the DfE are owned by schools, academy trusts, local authorities or further education providers. The majority of devices will be delivered to schools, colleges and trusts, which will lend them to children and young people who need them the most. Up to 10,000 devices will be available to local authorities for children and young people supported by a social worker and care leavers, which will allow them to stay in touch with their social workers and personal advisors. Up to 6,000 devices will be available for children from Afghanistan.
Devices will be delivered to organisations via the Get Help With Technology service, which reopens on Friday 29 October. My Department will send “invitation to order” emails to schools, colleges, trusts and local authorities throughout November and December. Full guidance on the new offer and wider support available will be available when the service reopens on 29 October. We are also making grant funding available to contribute towards the technical support costs of setting up or resetting devices received through this scheme. This is to ensure that devices remain safe for children and young people to use.
Our provision of laptops and tablets—which comes to a commitment of 1.85 million following today’s announcement—are on top of an estimated 2.9 million already owned by schools before the start of the pandemic.
The Government have also supported families get online through a number of initiatives. We recently announced new funding to support schools and colleges in providing internet access during the autumn term for disadvantaged pupils whose face-to-face education is disrupted. Schools and colleges will be able to claim this funding from January 2022. We are also continuing to provide 4G wireless routers for pupils without internet access.
Government investment has also helped more than a thousand schools with the slowest speeds access gigabit broadband. It means teachers can make use of the most cutting-edge learning tech benefiting thousands of children. Further information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/1000-schools-connected-to-top-of-the-class-full-fibre-broadband.
In addition, our EdTech Demonstrator network provides free peer-to-peer training and advice to state-funded schools and further education institutions. Further information can be found here: https://edtechdemo.ucst.uk/. EdTech Demonstrators can help schools and further education institutions make the best use of technology for classroom teaching and for remote education where pupils or students need to self-isolate in line with public health advice or Government guidance.
The Government continue to fund expert technical support to help schools and colleges set up secure user accounts for Google and Microsoft’s education platforms. Schools still have until 30 November 2021 to apply for Government funded support to get set up on either Google Workspace for Education or Microsoft Office 365 Education. Since April 2020, almost 7,000 schools have applied to the programme and over 2.34 million accounts have been created.