At the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, IT equipment was rolled out rapidly by the Department for Education to deliver an ambitious programme, enabling children to access remote education. A group of leading IT service providers and equipment manufacturers rose to the challenge – working with the Government to achieve the goal.

As we approach the second part of the autumn term, the Department’s approach will ensure allocations are more effectively targeted to the children and schools that have the greatest need. If a school is closing for a sustained period, their Regional Schools Commissioner will work with them to ensure they receive enough devices to meet the needs of all disadvantaged children in Years 3 to 11 to who do not already have one. Where schools are not fully closing, but believe they need additional devices, I am told they should contact the DfE’s service team to discuss a solution.

The purchase of 96,000 further devices to support disadvantaged children brings the total number of laptops and tablets to over 340,000. This is part of over £195 million invested by DfE to support remote education and access to online social care, which included over 220,000 laptops and tablets and over 50,000 4G wireless routers to disadvantaged children already delivered over the summer term. At the Project’s peak, 27,000 laptops were delivered in a single day.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The scale and speed at which the Department has delivered laptops and tablets to children who need them over the past six months is unprecedented, with deliveries now set to total over half a million by Christmas.

“As we move into half term, and in the context of significant global demand, we’re updating our allocation process to more accurately align orders with the number of students schools typically have self-isolating, ensuring as many children as possible benefit from receiving a device this term.

“We have already purchased an additional 96,000 devices and continue to work closely with our suppliers to ensure delivery despite the increased global demand.”    

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