DfE extends digital support scheme

The Department for Education (DfE) has extended its digital support to schools by making additional laptops and tablets available to schools that support disadvantaged children who would not otherwise have access to remote education.

The Department says it is committed to welcoming all children back to school from September, but recognises that there will be an ongoing role for remote education in the event of further face-to-face disruptions to schooling as a result of COVID-19 outbreaks.

Before the start of the autumn term, the DfE will contact local authorities and academy trusts in England to request details of a representative within each school who would be responsible for placing orders if required. The DfE has stated that schools will not miss out on devices if they are unable to respond quickly.

Who can receive digital devices

The DfE will provide devices to schools where education is disrupted so that they can support children who do not have access to a digital device through other means and are:

  • disadvantaged pupils in Years 3 to 11 (the needs of disadvantaged Year 10 children should have been met through the earlier allocation of devices over the summer term and schools/LAs are expected to make those devices available again to new Year 11 children: it is only where gaps remain within the Year 11 needs that those can be addressed through this allocation);
  • 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 a school on a hospital site;
  • children who are completing Key Stage 4 at a further education college.

When devices can be ordered

Devices will be available when:

  • a school supports a clinically extremely vulnerable child who is shielding either at home or in hospital: if the school is not closed, devices will be provided for clinically extremely vulnerable children only;
  • a school is fully closed, or only open to children of key workers and vulnerable children, based on local public health advice;
  • your school is partially closed to those in target year groups (Years 3 to 11) based on local public health advice;
  • a school is open but is supporting children who live in an area subject to local lockdown restrictions which means they are unable to attend. Devices will only be provided to the disadvantaged children in target years who are unable to attend.

Device ownership and distribution

  • All devices will be owned by the schools who place the order.
  • It will be the responsibility of the school to lend the devices to those who need them.
  • Devices will not come with any pre-installed software or device management functionality unless requested.
  • Before distributing devices, schools will need to ensure they are set up to access remote education and that appropriate safeguarding controls and support are in place to help children and families use devices safely.

For more information, please read the DfE guidance available at Get laptops for children who cannot attend school due to coronavirus (COVID-19) or email the COVID Technology Team with specific queries about the programme.