Free laptops not guaranteed before schools reopen

Exclusive: DfE says first batch of devices for disadvantaged pupils will be delivered in the next 'few weeks'

Amy Gibbons

Coronavirus home learning

The government has been unable to guarantee that it will deliver free laptops and tablets to disadvantaged pupils before schools reopen.

The Department for Education (DfE) announced on Sunday that "disadvantaged" children in Year 10, together with care-leavers and those with social workers, will be given free devices in a bid to make remote learning during lockdown easier.

But, when asked by Tes if it could guarantee that children will receive the devices before schools return, the DfE was unable to confirm.

Coronavirus: DfE won't say who will get free laptops

Background: Free laptops for disadvantaged pupils

Exclusive: National edtech hub 'needed to close gap'

It simply said it hoped the first laptops and tablets will be delivered within the next few weeks.

When announcing the scheme at the weekend, education secretary Gavin Williamson said: "By providing young people with these laptops and tablets and enabling schools to access high-quality support, we will enable all children to continue learning now and in the years to come.

"We hope this support will take some of the pressure off both parents and schools by providing more materials for them to use."

Yesterday, the government said it will be up to local authorities and multi-academy trusts to decide which pupils are eligible for free laptops and tablets during the school shutdown.

For single academies, the DfE will be making the decision itself. But when asked how it would be defining disadvantage, the department would only state that the devices would go to "disadvantaged pupils".

Commenting on the timeframe for getting the laptops to identified pupils, a DfE spokesperson said: "The programme is progressing as planned and devices will start to be delivered in the coming weeks."

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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