Children: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 7th October 2020.

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Shadow Minister (International Trade)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate he has made of the number of (a) primary and (b) secondary school age children who do not have access to appropriate IT equipment at home; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The Department has modelled schools’ requirements for support with laptops and tablets to enable pupils to learn at home in case of disruption to face to face education due to COVID-19. To do this, the Department has used data on the number of pupils eligible for free school meals in each school, alongside modelling how the device needs of pupils will be met to some extent by the device endowments of schools and colleges.

During the summer term, over 220,000 laptops and tablets and over 50,000 4G wireless routers had been delivered or dispatched to local authorities and academy trusts. This information can be viewed here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/912888/Devices_and_4G_wireless_routers_progress_data_as_of_27_August_2020.pdf.

In addition to devices already held by schools, the Department has made a further 250,000 laptops and tablets available to support disadvantaged children during the autumn term. Schools will be able to lend the devices to children and reallocate them between pupils as they require.

Devices are available to schools to support the most disadvantaged pupils in year 3 to year 11 who would not otherwise have access to a device and whose face to face education is disrupted. Schools will also be able to support disadvantaged children across all year groups who might be shielding at home on official or medical advice due to one of their household being clinically extremely vulnerable. Where education is disrupted in hospital schools, they will be able to order devices for children in all year groups. Further education colleges registered to teach 14-16 year olds may also apply for devices for disadvantaged children in Key Stage 4.

Schools, local authorities and academy trusts are able to request additional devices if their original allocation by the Department does not meet their needs.

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