Remote Education: Bristol West

Department for Education written question – answered on 25th November 2020.

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Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Shadow Secretary of State for Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many (a) devices and (b) 4G wireless routers had been allocated to schools in Bristol West to support education requirements as at 24 October 2020.

Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Shadow Secretary of State for Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the number of school pupils (a) self-isolating in Bristol and (b) self-isolating elsewhere who need a device and 4G wireless router as of 17 November 2020.

Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Shadow Secretary of State for Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how schools can contact his Department urgently to request additional laptops or other connectivity devices to assist children who cannot attend school as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; what the waiting time is for delivery of those devices; and what the eligibility requirements are for schools to request additional devices.

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

The Department has invested over £195 million to support remote education and access to online social care. This includes delivering over 220,000 laptops and tablets during the summer term for disadvantaged children who would not otherwise have access to a digital device. The Department is adding to this support by making over 340,000 additional laptops and tablets available this term to support disadvantaged children that might experience disruption to their education. Since September 2020, over 100,000 of these have been delivered to schools. This represents an injection of over half a million laptops and tablets by the end of the year.

Summer term delivery data, which includes Bristol Council, can be found 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.

Current delivery data, as of 22 October 2020, can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/929064/Ad-hoc_stats_note_shipped_data_231020_FINAL.pdf.

A summary of attendance in education settings during the COVID-19 outbreak can be found here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/attendance-in-education-and-early-years-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

The Get Help With Technology scheme is intended to enable schools to support disadvantaged children in Years 3 to 11 who do not have access to a laptop or tablet privately or through school. Support is provided when schools report disruption to face-to-face education. Schools can order laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children across all year groups who are shielding as a result of official or medical advice, for all year groups who attend hospital schools, and for those completing their Key Stage 4 at a further education college. Subject to availability, we expect to deliver orders within 48 hours of the ordering being received.

The Department allocated a number of devices to each school. To arrive at this allocation, the Department has used data on the number of pupils eligible for free school meals in each school. The Department expects that pupils’ device needs will be met to some extent by existing school laptops and tablets.

The Department estimated the number of disadvantaged pupils without access to an internet connection using data on pupils eligible for free school meals in each school, taking into consideration estimations by Ofcom and reflecting that some pupils would already have access to a private internet connection.

In the context of significant demand, we have updated our allocation process to more accurately align orders with the number of students typically self-isolating, ensuring as many children as possible benefit from receiving a device this term.

Schools, local authorities, and academy trusts can request additional devices if their allocation from the Department does not meet their needs. These requests can be submitted to: covid.technology@education.gov.uk.

Laptops and tablets are owned by the local authority, academy trust, or school who can lend unused laptops and tablets to children and young people who need them most, and who may experience disruption to face-to-face education due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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