Government buys another 100,000 laptops to support self-isolating children

Written by Sam Trendall on 5 October 2020 in News

Additional reserves take total made available to 470,000

Credit: F. Muhammad from Pixabay

The government has added another 100,000 laptops to the reserves intended to support remote learning for pupils required to self-isolate.

The machines come in addition to the 220,000 devices distributed to disadvantaged pupils during the early summer – primarily those in year 10 or preparing for exams –and a further tranche of 150,000 that were added as part of an expansion of the programme in August.

With children having returned to school across England at the beginning of last month, the extra 100,000 laptops will be used to help those who need to continue their education during a period of enforced isolation.

The Department for Education said: “The extra devices will be available to support: disadvantaged children in Years 3-11 who do not already have access to a device; disadvantaged, clinically extremely vulnerable children of all year groups who are unable to return to school; and children in all year groups unable to access remote education whilst attending a hospital school.”

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As well as the additional machines, the government is to provide £1.5m of extra funding for the EdTech Demonstrator programme, in which expert schools, colleges and teaching staff support each other in using technology.

This will enable the scheme to provide dedicated support to a total of 4,400 institutions – 1,000 more than it can currently. The number of ‘demonstrator’ schools and colleges enlisted to offer help will also be expanded to 60.

Grant funding of £1,000 will also be provided to 80 further education providers to enable the provision of “additional training and support for mentors and coaches specialising in assisting teachers with remote education”.

Other resources being made available to schools to support remote learning include “a good practice guide and school-led webinars”.  The government also stressed that online lessons are also still on offer to schools via the £5m Oak National Academy.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “The best place for children and young people to learn is in the classroom, which is why we made it a national priority to get all pupils back into schools and colleges full-time, and why I have been so pleased to see millions of them returning over the past few weeks. We have also, as we would expect, seen small numbers of students self-isolating in line with public health advice. It’s vital these students have access to high quality and consistent remote education.”

The DfE claimed that, as of 24 September, 99.8% of state schools had reopened and that an “overwhelming majority of children and young people continuing their education with minimal disruption”.


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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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