Government to provide 100,000 devices for remote learning

Education providers in England are being offered increased support from the Department for Education (DfE) to facilitate home learning during the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

The government is providing 100,000 laptops for children who might need them to learn remotely if they are forced to self-isolate and will expand its “EdTech Demonstrator” programme which helps schools and teachers understand how to use technology to provide remote learning.

“The best place for children and young people to learn is in the classroom, which is why we made it a national priority to get all pupils back into schools and colleges full-time, and why I have been so pleased to see millions of them returning over the past few weeks,” said education secretary Gavin Williamson.

“We have also, as we would expect, seen small numbers of students self-isolating in line with public health advice. It’s vital these students have access to high-quality and consistent remote education,” he added.

“I know that through the incredible hard work of our teachers and staff, pupils will continue to receive the education they deserve through this academic year, whatever the circumstances, and I will do everything I can to support our schools, colleges and young people in making sure that’s the case.”

The coronavirus outbreak has forced many people to use technology to perform day-to-day tasks, including working from home or learning remotely.

Teachers, who have previously said they don’t have the confidence to properly deliver subjects such as coding, are now having to use technology to teach pupils from home.

Though many have gone back to classrooms across England, some teachers are still having to work remotely, including those being asked to self-isolate.

The 100,000 devices being offered by the government are in addition to the 150,000 it has already made available and the 220,000 already issued to eligible students.

The devices are for children between the ages of seven and 16 (Years 3 to 11) who do not have access to a device, such as those from disadvantaged backgrounds, those who are clinically vulnerable and cannot return to school, or those unable to access remote education while attending a hospital school.

Currently, the government’s EdTech Demonstrator programme, which is a network of schools and colleges allowing teachers and support workers to help their peers use technology to deliver remote education, has reached 6,000 schools through webinars, tutorials and one-to-one learning.

The government will give the programme £1.5m additional funding to support a further 1,000 schools and colleges, and to grow the number of demonstrator schools and colleges to 50.

As part of its ongoing support for education providers dealing with remote learning, the government has also published a Temporary Continuity Direction, outlining that schools have as much duty to provide children with remote education at home as they do in a classroom setting, preventing those who need to stay at home from having their education disrupted.

Teachers will also be able to access a “good practice guide”, alongside other resources to help with remote teaching skills, and the government has made 80 grants of £1,000 available for further education providers across England to access training, mentoring and coaching in remote teaching.

The government has already announced it is investing £4.84m in providers of educational resources, such as the Oak National Academy.

Digital skills have become increasingly important during the pandemic, with almost 60% of UK adults expressing interest in developing their digital skills over the next year and 80% saying they believe digital skills will be important for the future.

Many expect a focus on developing digital skills in the UK to be a major driver for economic recovery after coronavirus.

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