Coronavirus: Over half of laptops STILL to be delivered in just two weeks

Just under half of the 230,000 laptops being distributed to help vulnerable pupils learn at home during the coronavirus pandemic have been sent out by the government – two months after the scheme was launched.

This means the Department for Education has just two weeks to send an additional 115,000 laptops to local authorities and academy trusts to meet its own June deadline.

An ad-hoc release by the DfE today shows it has sent 114,536 of the 230,000 laptops and tablets to schools since announcing the £85 million scheme in April.

In addition, just 22,000 of the over 50,000 4G wireless routers have been delivered or dispatched to local authorities and trusts. 

The aim of the scheme, announced in April,  is to provide free laptops and tablets for disadvantaged year 10s and other vulnerable pupils.  

However, the government has been criticised for its slow response. The figures published today also show that 46,000 of the devices (40 percent of those delivered) and 10,000 routes (45 per cent of those delivered) were also sent in the last week alone.

The scheme has previously come under fire from school leaders who say it doesn’t cover the needs of vulnerable pupils – with some academy trusts being given an initial allocation of less than a fifth of what they need. 

Education secretary Gavin Williamson previously told the Parliamentary education committee the DfE expected “the first laptops to be arriving at the end of May, with the majority delivered through June.” 

And speaking in the House of Commons last week, Williamson said the government was “on schedule to distribute the full 230,000 computers over the coming month”.

He said: “Some 100,000 of those laptops have already been distributed to the most vulnerable and most disadvantaged children. We took the decision to ensure that children who have social workers are prioritised over and above schools.

“A further 75,000 computers will be distributed to schools in the coming weeks.”