DfE appoints partner to support delivery of up to 500,000 homeschooling laptops this winter

Written by Sam Trendall on 22 November 2021 in News
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Major supplier Computacenter awarded multimillion-pound contract

Credit: Muscat_Coach/Pixabay

The Department for Education has signed a multimillion-pound contract with commercial partner Computacenter to support the delivery of up to 500,000 laptops to children whose education is disrupted this winter.

The DfE’s Get Help With Technology (GHWT) programme was launched at the start of the pandemic, at a time when schools around the country were closed, to provide devices and connectivity to disadvantaged children that would otherwise have been unable to continue learning. Since the launch of the scheme 20 months ago, more than 1.3 million laptops have been distributed to pupils aged between seven and 18.

The department has secured funding to support the provision of up a further 500,000 devices this winter.

“DfE is not anticipating further school closures on a national scale,” it said, in newly published commercial documents. “However, ongoing, localised, disruption to face-to-face education resulting from the pandemic is likely – especially during the autumn/winter flu season – and so ensuring that schools can offer support to disadvantaged and vulnerable children with remote education remains a priority for DfE.”

Computacenter has served as the primary commercial partner for the GHWT programme, having been awarded contracts totalling about £250m for the provision and delivery of machines.


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The Hertfordshire-based IT reseller has now secured a six-month deal to provide the DfE with “customer management, logistics and distribution of devices to schools” throughout the winter months.

Between £5m and £9m is expected to be spent via the contract, which came in effect on 12 October and runs until 1 April.

The engagement covers “receipt and stock-management of devices” and overseeing shipment of machines to schools. Computacenter will also test devices to ensure they meet the department’s specifications and provide “customer-facing services to schools”, as well as running a replacement service for institutions that have ordered the wrong machines by mistake, or have received faulty equipment.

The contract stipulates that the firm will also be asked to provide “up to date – ideally real-time – reporting back to the department in relation to the stock and flow of devices”.

The document added that the DfE, which publicly announced the extension of the GHWT programme last month, will acquire the 500,000 via separate engagements with manufacturers and resellers.

“It will be the responsibility of device suppliers to arrange for importation of these devices and for bonded storage in the UK until they become the responsibility of [Computacenter], for onward distribution,” the contract said.

The document reveals that, in line with measures introduced by government last year, Computacenter’s bid for the contract was assessed, in part, on the social value credentials of the company.

“For this contract, social value will be assessed as ‘improving health and wellbeing’ for staff working on this contract and ‘tackling economic inequality’, with reference to creating employment opportunities, particularly for those who face barriers to employment and/or who are in deprived areas,” the contract said.

 

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology. He can be reached on sam.trendall@dodsgroup.com.

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