The department is supplementing the £100 million it has already invested to support remote education. In the event of local lockdowns due to a coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak where face-to-face education is not possible, there will be an ongoing role for remote education. DfE can provide additional devices to schools for them to support disadvantaged children. The department is initially making an additional 150,000 laptops and tablets available to schools, from September, available to schools to support disadvantaged children who would not otherwise have access to remote education; specifically disadvantaged children:
We have already provided over 50,000 4G wireless routers to support disadvantaged children to learn at home and access vital social care services. These routers come with free data for the autumn term and will allow LAs and academy trusts to support children who may have their education and care disrupted because of official coronavirus restrictions or disruption to face-to-face contact.
In partnership with BT, the department has also launched a service to provide children and young people free access to BT Wi-Fi hotspots. Through the pilot, up to 10,000 families should be able to access a BT Wi-Fi connection. We are currently working with BT to expand this offer for the autumn term to allow more children to access the internet through their network of BT Wi-Fi hotspots.
We are also working with the major telecommunications companies to improve internet connectivity for disadvantaged and vulnerable families. We are piloting an approach where for families who rely on a mobile internet connection, mobile network operators will provide temporary access to free additional data offering them more flexibility to access the resources that they need the most.