With at least another month in lockdown and schools not opening their doors until 8 March at the earliest, students are stuck at home online learning. This is generally fine if they have the means to access the internet easily, however many disadvantaged pupils do not have the luxury of being able to log on and get on with their studies and they are falling behind (a study conducted in November prior to the latest lockdown estimated that some children were 3 months behind in their schoolwork). This gap in provision has prompted mobile phone providers to support less advantaged students by offering various ways to help them stay connected to their learning.

Provider schemes

EE has launched a free ’Lockdown Learning’ support scheme offering eligible pupils (or their carers depending on age) unlimited data until the end of the summer term, which will cover any further isolations or lockdowns. They are working with the Department of Education to ensure that children who need it do not run out of data and incur extra costs. Click here to find out how to access this via your children’s school https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk/

Along with BT Mobile and Plusnet, EE customers on PAYG or monthly contracts are also offering pupils free access to the fantastic learning resource that is BBC Bitesize. This means that students can revise and consolidate their classwork while schools are closed, without the worry of using up all their data. No registration for this scheme is needed, just access the site and go!

However, some schemes, such as the free BT WiFi voucher offer, can only be accessed through schools as the vouchers are allocated on the basis of an individual student’s needs. This is available to the most disadvantaged children (capped at 60 vouchers per school) until end of July 2021 and will allow internet access on up to three devices at a time through BT’s network of over 5 million WiFi hotspots.

Another scheme that has already been made available through schools is Vodafone’s offer of free connectivity to 350,000 children in the UK.  Due to unprecedented demand, this was extended from the initial roll-out of 250,000  to include those in further education. Headteachers can order data SIMs and each SIM has a 30GB data allowance valid for 90 days. The SIMs can then be inserted into a connected device making it easier for those pupils to keep up with their schoolwork. Both the BT and the Vodafone offers come with age-restricted content bars so no worries about accessing inappropriate websites.

What we think

At Comms Connect we are very pleased to see that the mobile providers are doing their bit to ensure that all children have the chance to get online and keep up with their studies, teachers and classmates.

If you are interested in reading more about any of these schemes, please click here for the links. https://newscentre.vodafone.co.uk/press-release/schools-connected-programme-free-sims-extended-astonishing-demand/


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