To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will list for each Academy Trust in North West Norfolk (a) the date on which the Trust was invited to apply for digital devices for disadvantaged children under the scheme announced on 19 April 2020 and (b) the number of devices that have been delivered.
The Government has committed over £100 million to support vulnerable and disadvantaged children in England to access remote education and social care services, including by providing laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers.
We are providing laptops and tablets to disadvantaged children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for examinations in Year 10, receiving support from a social worker or are a care leaver. Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and children in Year 10 do not have internet connections, we are providing 4G wireless routers.
The Department has ordered over 200,000 laptops and tablets and allocated devices to local authorities and academy trusts based on its estimates of the number of eligible children that do not have access to a device. Local authorities and academy trusts are best placed to identify and prioritise children and young people who need devices. The Department is working to provide these devices in the shortest possible timeframe; deliveries to schools and local authorities began in May and will continue throughout June. So far we have shipped over 100,000 laptops and 20,000 4G routers, including 1,803 to Norfolk local authority for children with a social worker and care leavers.
As a priority we will be delivering devices and connectivity to children with a social worker and care leavers. Social distancing presents a risk to the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children since Children’s Social Care services have reduced face-to-face contact with families. This creates a need for remote safeguarding measures, but these are reliant on digital infrastructure which is not available in every household. Families that require Children’s Social Care services are put at a greater risk if they cannot be seen virtually and monitored by safeguarding services online. Vulnerable care leavers also risk social isolation and associated mental health problems.
The Department has published information about how many laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers we have delivered or dispatched to local authorities and academy trusts as of 14 June, which can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/laptops-tablets-and-4g-wireless-routers-progress-data.