This press release that emerged last Thursday sounded very useful, particularly as the number of pupils being unable to attend school due to the impact of COVID has risen dramatically in the last few weeks since Schools reopened. In addition each School that has pupils unable to attend are obliged to provide remote education and so a few devices will certainly make that easier. However it has now emerged that the new promise of 100,000 computers along with the other computers that have been made available to other Schools are restricted to Schools that contain 15 or more pupils that are self isolating due to coronavirus symptoms. One wonders how many Schools will ever have that many children impacted for long enough for the laptops to arrive as presumably the order needs to be approved by the Government which presumably takes time to achieve. The press release in its entirety can be read here and it certainly doesn’t refer to these numbers. The indications that there are criteria has been published to the Schools and an article is presented here in the Children and Young People Now magazine to explain that. The following section is part of that article.
However, despite swathes of the UK currently subject to local lockdown restrictions due to spikes in Covid-19 infections, new guidance states the devices cannot be ordered when there are fewer than 15 children with coronavirus symptoms self-isolating within a school “and no broader recommendations to a ‘bubble’ or year group”.
Secondary schools in areas where tier two restrictions for local lockdowns have been applied, forcing them to implement a rota system providing allocated on-site provision alongside remote education, are also exempt from ordering extra devices.
Guidance states that devices can be ordered when a school has 15 or more children in years 3 to 11 self-isolating and “each has been exposed to a confirmed case outside the school community”.
They can also be accessed if a local health protection team has advised a group of children in years 3 to 11 not to attend school.
Devices will be allocated to schools based on the number of children in years 3 to 11, free school meals data and the approximate number of devices already owned by the school, the DfE said.
“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,” the guidance states.
It comes following the introduction of new legislation meaning schools have a legal duty to provide remote education to pupils unable to attend.
Of course there is a risk that the Government are setting out claims to the nation but once the small print is seen the fact that the Schools are placed under pressure but may have very little assistance is brushed under the various carpets.