Laptops target still unmet a month after pupils’ return

The DfE is still more than 4,000 devices short on delivering its target of free laptops for disadvantaged pupils

Covid and schools: DfE's lockdown laptops target still unmet one month after pupils returned to school

The Department for Education has still not hit its target in the delivery of free laptops to disadvantaged pupils, a month after mass home-schooling ended, the latest figures show.

A total of 1,295,752 laptops have now been delivered, but this is still 4,248 laptops short of the DfE's target of 1.3 million.

The rollout of devices has been intended to help disadvantaged pupils access remote learning during lockdown – but almost 50,000 devices were still to arrive the day before schools reopened to all pupils on 8 March.

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The DfE says all of the 1.3 million devices have been available to order. It says it is now working closely with those schools that have not yet ordered their full, entitled allocation - which accounts for those devices not yet delivered - to ensure they receive them.

Covid: DfE short of free laptops target

The figures show that well over half of the total laptops (733,331) have been delivered since 4 January, while 48 per cent have been delivered to schools in academy trusts.

Geoff Barton, Association of School and College Leaders general secretary, said: “The government has been promising for months that it would deliver 1.3 million laptops to schools and we are now tantalisingly close to seeing that target achieved.

“We do not underestimate the scale of the government’s logistical operation but the truth is they were slow to react in the first place, slow to get started and progress since has been painfully slow.

“The irony is not lost on us that the pupils who really needed laptops during the months of the latest lockdown when schools were largely closed have now been back in the classroom for over a month and the country is moving ever closer to the end of the pandemic crisis.”

Mr Barton called for a long-term commitment from the Government to fund the IT infrastructure schools need.

“Setting a target of every pupil having a laptop of their own would be a logical and impressive new target for the DfE to set itself,” he said.

In January, nearly a fifth of headteachers reported that laptops provided to their pupils by the government had not worked as required.

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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