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More laptops and tablets will be available in 2021

From January 2021, DfE will increase the help available through its get help with technology programme.

This includes:

  • providing hundreds of thousands more laptops and tablets – reaching a total of more than 1 million by the end of the academic year

  • enabling all schools, colleges, trusts and local authorities to order devices before they experience disruption to face-to-face education

  • supporting disadvantaged 16 to 19 year olds in further education

DfE will provide more information to the schools, colleges, trusts and local authorities able to order these devices in the spring term 2021. We’ll continue to support schools experiencing disruption as a priority.

Who can get laptops and tablets

Schools will be able to order an allocation of devices for:

  • disadvantaged children in years 3 to 11 who do not have access to a device and whose face-to-face education is disrupted

  • disadvantaged children in any year group who have been advised to shield because they (or someone they live with) are clinically extremely vulnerable

  • disadvantaged children in any year group attending a hospital school

This offer applies to maintained schools, pupil referral units, academy trusts and hospital schools, as well as sixth-form colleges who have enrolled 14 to 16-year-olds.

Disadvantaged children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are included within this offer. However, if specialist support and equipment is required help may be available through the Family Fund.

Parents, carers and pupils cannot apply for digital devices or internet access through this scheme themselves. They should contact their school to discuss requirements for accessing remote education.

How device allocations have been decided ?

Schools and colleges will receive an allocation of devices to be used to support disadvantaged children who are otherwise unable to access remote education.

Examples of this include disadvantaged children:

  • with no digital devices in their household

  • whose only available device is a smartphone

  • with a single device in their household that’s being shared with more than one other family member

The number of devices available to order through the get help with technology service reflects the number of laptops and tablets we estimate are needed by each school or college. This calculation is based on:

  • the number of children in years 3 to 11 (16 to 19 education providers will be contacted during the 2021 spring term when the service is extended to years 12 and 13)

  • free school meals data

  • an estimate of the number of devices a school or college already has

This allocation can be used as part of preparing to deliver remote education. However, the exact number and type of devices available will be confirmed at the time of ordering based on stock availability and the extent of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. If there are widespread school closures, allocations could be temporarily reduced.

Read detailed information on allocations and how to query them.


When laptops and tablets can be ordered ?

To help us monitor the impact of the virus and focus support effectively, schools and colleges are encouraged to complete the educational settings status form.

The main way we understand if a school is experiencing disruption is by reviewing the educational settings status form responses each day.

Schools will be invited to order if:

  • the school is closed following official advice, although vulnerable children and the children of critical workers may still be attending

  • 15 or more students are absent after exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) inside or outside the school

Official advice may be from Public Health England (PHE), local health teams or the DfE’s contingency framework for education and childcare settings.

DfE will email the person nominated to order to let them know when device orders can be placed. We aim to do this within 24 hours of the report, but it may take longer in some cases.

Devices can be ordered for disadvantaged children in any year group who:

  • are one of a small group of clinically extremely vulnerable pupils under paediatric or NHS care who have been advised by their GP or clinician not to attend school

  • are clinically extremely vulnerable and have been told by the government not to attend school as they live in an area where more restrictive formal shielding has been reintroduced

  • live in a household that’s been advised to shield on current official advice from the government, their GP or clinician because someone living there is clinically extremely vulnerable

Shielding advice provides recommendations to help people who are, or live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, to protect themselves from coronavirus (COVID-19). Shielding is different to self-isolating, which is a requirement for people who have or have might have coronavirus (COVID-19).

When laptops and tablets cannot be ordered

Devices cannot be ordered for disadvantaged children when:

  • they are self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or self-isolating because they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive where there are fewer than 15 self-isolating children within a school and no broader recommendations to a ‘bubble’ or year group

  • they are self-isolating following arrival in the UK

Short-term absences for limited numbers of children should be managed using a school or college’s existing policies and resources.

How to order devices

Ordering for pupils in years 3 to 11

Local authorities and academy trusts in England can use the get help with technology service to submit details of who will place orders if required. Local authorities and academy trusts have the option to manage the ordering process themselves or to delegate this to the education settings they are responsible for.

Ordering for students in years 12 and 13

Laptops and tablets will be available for further education providers to order in the 2021 spring term. We’ll contact these providers with more information during the term.

More information is available on:

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