School laptop allocations restored to ‘original levels’ after DfE backtracks

The government is returning school laptop allocations to “original levels” less than two months after slashing them by around 80 per cent.

In October, the Department for Education told headteachers their laptop allocations for disadvantaged pupils had been reduced to ensure stocks last longer.

However today, as part of its daily Covid-19 update to school leaders, the DfE said allocations will now be returned  to “original levels” due to “the improved flow of stock internationally and the purchase of an additional 96,000 laptops this term”.

The government had previously worked out allocations for schools based on how many disadvantaged children they have in years 3 to 11. Despite heads saying these figures were already too low, they were left horrified when the government slashed allocations by 80 per cent earlier this term.

The update adds: “Adjusting allocations ensured that devices reached as many children as possible when they needed them most, and as a result we have been able to continue delivering laptops and tablets to those young people throughout this term.”

Schools Week understands that schools who missed out as they were only awarded the 20 per cent allocation will now get their full allocations.

If a school needed to make another claim before Christmas, they would be awarded their full allocation then. If not, they will get their full allocation after Christmas – regardless of whether they experience further disruption.

More details on the announcement – and plans for laptop delivery next calendar year – are expected before Christmas.

The changes will be made in the “coming days”, the update adds. But schools won’t be able to place orders for devices over Christmas.

Device orders will be accepted up until 4pm on Thursday, December 17, and will not resume until Monday, January 4.

The DfE added if a school places an order next week it must be able to receive devices up to 6pm on Friday, December 18.

Since October 22, a legal duty had been placed upon schools to provide remote education for pupils missing schools due to Covid-19.

But just one day after the duty came into force the DfE announced it was slashing access to laptops for disadvantaged pupils.

Earlier this year the DfE also failed on its promise to deliver laptops to pupils by the end of June, falling nearly 30,000 short.

Despite the controversies, earlier this week schools minister Nick Gibb said the laptop scheme had been a “phenomenal success”.

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