No free laptops for schools with fewer than 15 self-isolating pupils

A school that is limiting attendance by operating a rota model or that has fewer than 15 children self-isolating with covid-19 symptoms cannot access free laptops or devices from the government.

The Department for Education has published updated guidance today which explains how a school can access technology to support disadvantaged children who are “otherwise unable to access remote education”.

It has announced today an extra 100,000 laptops, on top of the 150,000 already promised, to support schools and colleges deliver education to disadvantaged pupils force to stay at home because of the pandemic.

But 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”.

The same applies if a secondary school is operating a rota model – which would happen in tier two of their model on local restrictions. This is where secondaries are providing on-site provision with remote education, with pupils allocated a rota time to attend.

Laptops are also not available for disadvantaged children who are self-isolating following arrival in the UK.

Examples of where devices can be ordered include when a school has 15 or more children in year 3 to 11 who are self-isolating having each 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.

It also extends to when a school is open to vulnerable children and children of keyworkers, as seen in the March lockdown.

The DfE has estimated how many devices are needed by each school by looking at the number of children in years 3 to 11, free school meals data and the estimate number of devices a school already has.

“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 DfE also says that if there are “widespread” school closures, allocations to schools could be reduced.