DfE passes one million laptops milestone (but 250k still to go)

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The government has now dispatched over one million laptops and tablets to disadvantaged pupils, leaving around 250,000 promised devices to be delivered.

Data released by the Department for Education (DfE) today shows it dispatched just under 69,000 laptops to schools between February 7 and 14, taking the total so far to 1,055,745.

It is the second week running that the department has increased the number of devices rolled out to pupils. Numbers previously jumped from 51,676 to 59,160 between the weeks ending Jan 31 and February 7.

This turnaround followed a three-week period earlier in the term which saw a significant drop in the number of devices dispatched – falling from around 140,000 to 75,000 between the weeks ending January 11 and 24.

However its latest week of dispatches finally pushes the government past the one million mark.

The Department for Education has pledged to provide a total of 1.3 million laptops to schools and colleges, but has remained tight-lipped about when all devices will be delivered.

Writing for Schools Week earlier this month, education secretary Gavin Williamson would only say that the “majority of device deliveries” would be completed “by the end of the first week of March”.

Before the pandemic, Ofcom estimated that 9 per cent of children – between 1.1 and 1.8 million – did not have access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home.

Research from TeachFirst last week revealed that over a third of parents have at least one child with no exclusive use of a device to work from home.

Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First, said the one million laptops milestone is “recognition of the important steps the Government has taken but warned “we know that many young people are still without a device or having to share, so we must continue doing everything we can to get the needed technology to every pupil”.

Williamson said the government would “continue to do everything we can to protect our children’s education at this unprecedented time and ensure they have the tools they need to get on with and make the most of their lives”.

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