To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the ability of pupils who are told to self-isolate to access online learning at home in circumstances where those pupils do not have access to the internet.
23 November 2020
The Department has invested over £195 million to support access to remote education and online social care. As part of this, we have already provided over 50,000 4G wireless routers, with free data for the rest of the 2020/21 academic year; 220,000 laptops and tablets in the summer term; and over 100,000 more this term to support disadvantaged children. Departmental guidance about remote education is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/remote-education-good-practice/remote-education-good-practice.
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. We know that schools and local authorities will have the best judgement of the children that need access to a device or internet connection.
We continue to provide 4G wireless routers, with free data, where schools face disruption and children need to access remote education.
In partnership with mobile network operators, the Department is providing temporary access to free additional mobile data, offering families flexibility to access the resources that they need the most.
Schools can request free mobile data uplifts for families who lack sufficient internet access until the end of the academic year via the Get Help with Technology service, when they experience disruption to face-to-face education or for clinically extremely vulnerable children. Further guidance about the Get Help with Technology service is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-technology-for-remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19.