To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he has taken to ensure that disadvantaged students without laptops and IT software studying at further education colleges are not digitally excluded.
8 December 2020
We have encouraged further education providers to use their 16-19 bursary funding to purchase devices and connectivity for disadvantaged students aged 16-19 where this is a barrier to learning. Earlier in the year, additional funding was made available to further education providers via a business case process, to support them with additional costs arising from students participating in education online. In addition, in August 2020, we announced that colleges can access help with device needs for students aged 14-16 attending a further education provider through the ‘Get Help with Technology’ service.
For adults aged 19 and over, we introduced a change to the Adult Education Budget (AEB) funding rules for the 2020/21 academic year to enable providers to use learner support funds to purchase IT devices for disadvantaged students to help them meet technology costs. In areas where the AEB budget is devolved, mayoral authorities determine adult student support arrangements.
In addition, where further education providers are supplementing their on-site education with online learning, our guidance asks colleges to preserve provision on-site for all learners who need it, including learners without access to devices or connectivity at home.