Disadvantaged children in Cheshire and Warrington helped to access online learning with national and local schemes available

BT is joining forces with the Department for Education (DfE) to help the most in-need children in England with online learning. In Cheshire and Warrington children can access this scheme as well as the LEP’s own #GettingStudentsOnline scheme which is helping the 13% of secondary school students in Cheshire and Warrington who don’t have access to a computer or broadband connectivity.

BT will provide in-need families with six months free access to the UK’s largest Wi-fi network, which extends to 5.5 million Wi-fi hotspots around the country. Access will be provided via a BT WiFi voucher-code system and will allow children to access the web on up to three devices at a time, for six months. The scheme will be offered to those who are most in need and was launched on June 16th. The ambitious plan follows the Department for Education’s initiative announced in April, which aims to help England’s most in-need children access vital online learning resources. Over the coming months, supporting hardest hit families is more important than ever.

Nick Gibb, School Standards Minister, said:The Government will do everything possible to make sure no child, whatever their background, falls behind as a result of coronavirus. We have committed over £100 million to support pupils with remote education, including to provide laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers to disadvantaged children and young people, and this initiative will build on that work. High quality internet access will continue to play an important role for children and families as we work towards pupils returning to schools in September, and I am hugely grateful to BT for their support in delivering this scheme.”

DfE has already provided over 50,000 4G wireless routers for children in secondary school with a social worker, care leavers and children in year 10 without access to the internet. BT is funding the scheme to provide in-need families with six months’ access to BT’s Wi-fi estate, while distribution is being handled directly by the DfE which will issue families with the necessary voucher usernames and passwords.

Locally, Cheshire and Warrington LEP is asking businesses if they can help children access online learning, through the LEP’s #GettingStudentsOnline campaign, to help get as many of our students as possible online quickly. The LEP, along with local employers Storengy, Engie and AO, have kick-started the campaign by donating 138 kit bundles to schools across Cheshire and Warrington. The bundles comprise an entry level educational device and 3 months broadband access and cost £250. If your business has a particular area or school you would like to support we will try to accommodate it, but The Pledge team will work with you to match you to a school. The school will have long-term ownership of the equipment and place it out on loan with those students who need it the most.

If you want to know more or want to donate to the LEP’s #GettingStudentsOnline campaign then please email pledge@871candwep.co.uk

If you are an LEA or Academy Trust wanting to know more about the BT scheme you should contact COVID.TECHNOLOGY@education.gov.uk