Schools to get help with technology and free school meals
All secondary schools have been invited by the Government to order laptops and tablets through the ‘Get help with technology service’ to support remote education. The Department of Education (DfE) will invite primary schools to order over the coming weeks, starting with the most disadvantaged areas in England and will contact each school by email as soon as they can order. Most orders will be delivered within two working days of being placed, and DfE aim to deliver all orders within five working days. They are also providing internet connections where they are needed.
Education Secretary outlines plans to support young people
The Education Secretary, Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP, has announced that pupils are to receive a set number of hours of remote education each day. He also confirmed that Ofsted will play an important role in holding schools to account for the quality of remote education. The full package of measures set out by the Education Secretary in Parliament yesterday includes:
- strengthened minimum standards of remote learning: schools will be expected to offer pupils online lessons and a set number of hours of remote education for pupils
- next steps on exam alternatives arrangements: students will not be asked to sit GCSE, AS and A level exams this summer. The Education Secretary expects Ofqual to consider a teacher assessed system as a replacement for GCSEs, AS and A levels. A consultation will be launched next week and conclude swiftly to give certainty to schools, colleges and students, while also giving them the opportunity to have their say.
- free school meals: extra funding will be provided to support schools to provide food parcels or meals to eligible students. The national voucher scheme will also re-open so that, in the event schools cannot offer food parcels or provide an alternative local solution, every child can access free school meals while they are learning at home.Increasing data allowances on mobile devices to support disadvantaged children
- Councils, schools and academy trusts can now request help to increase mobile data allowances for children and young people who:
- do not have fixed broadband at home
- cannot afford additional data for their devices
- are experiencing disruption to their face-to-face education. Revised guidance from the DFE on Children of critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings now includes within the definition of “Vulnerable children and young people” “those who may have difficulty engaging with remote education at home (for example due to a lack of devices or quiet space to study)”. Such children may now continue to attend school, despite the lockdown.Children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school or college if required. Critical workers is defined as “those whose work is critical to the coronavirus and the EU transition response, those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined in the guidance”.
- Children lacking access to remote education classed as “vulnerable”
- Mobile data increases can also be requested when schools report a closure or have pupils self-isolating, as well as for children who cannot attend school face-to-face because they are clinically extremely vulnerable. If increasing mobile data isn’t a suitable option for some children, schools can also request 4G wireless routers.