To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with representatives of BT on the provision of internet connections for disadvantaged school pupils during school closures due to the covid-19 outbreak.
14 January 2021
The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people.
From June to September 2020, the Department ran a pilot in partnership with BT to provide children and young people with free access to a BT Wi-Fi hotspot. Through the pilot, 10,000 BT codes were sent to local authorities and trusts for them to pass on to families so that they could access a BT Wi-Fi connection until 31 December 2020.
This offer was not extended to schools, local authorities or trusts outside of the pilot because following testing it did not suitably meet children and young people’s needs for a reliable and consistent internet connection to access remote education.
We are grateful to BT for partnering with the Department in order to help disadvantaged children continue to access remote education in the event of local disruptions, and we are grateful for their continued support with our mobile data uplift offer.
We have already provided 4G wireless routers, with free data for the academic year, and continue to provide 4G wireless routers where children need to access remote education.
We have partnered with the UK’s leading mobile operators to provide free data to help disadvantaged children get online as well as delivering 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home.
We continue to invite a range of mobile network providers to support the offer.