DfE pledges further support for schools during lockdown

Thousands of UK schools will benefit from technical support for both Google and Microsoft’s education platforms

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced that thousands of UK schools will benefit from a pioneering partnership with tech giants Google and Microsoft.

Schools will receive expert technical support, on top of gaining immediate access to Google and Microsoft’s education platforms. Teachers will also be trained in how to use the resources effectively, which include online digital course material, setup support, webinars and a peer-to-peer assistance network.

The announcement follows the government’s pledge to provide laptops and tablets for vulnerable and disadvantaged youth across the country. Ministers have committed over £100m to provide the devices and internet access for those most in need.

On Friday 24 April, the government wrote to local authorities, trusts and other education or social care organisations to outline the process for ordering devices. The government has already placed a bulk order and organisations can register to receive their allocation, while institutions that administer the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund will be able to apply for a top-up.

“As schools, parents and children adapt to the changing environment we are all faced with, it is vital that we provide them with the right support so young people are able to continue their education,” said schools minister Nick Gibb.

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“Through close partnership with the education sector and two of the world’s biggest tech companies, we are working to ensure that children can continue their studies while they are at home.

“Laptops and tablets for vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils are on their way and will begin to be distributed in weeks, enabling those most in need to access online resources.”

To help schools and colleges deliver a seamless remote learning experience, 20 institutions with outstanding technology practices have been awarded between £70,000 and £150,000 through the Edtech Demonstrator Programme.

Announced last year to promote internal sector support on the effective use of edtech, the programme has now been adapted to suit the remote learning model. The project is set to be expanded in the coming weeks, and schools can register their interest to receive support.

“Schools across the UK are facing unprecedented challenges as their staff demonstrate incredible resilience, imagination and passion to ensure children are safe and able to keep learning while at home,” said Cindy Rose, CEO of Microsoft UK.

“We’re proudly working with the Department for Education to support the roll out of remote learning technology for those who need it.”

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