Connectivity support grant available for disadvantaged pupils

The government has stated that schools are expected to continue offering immediate access to remote education where pupils test positive for coronavirus and need to isolate

During the last academic year, the Schools Broadband 4G filtered service helped to provide safe, remote internet access for more than 2,000 disadvantaged students through its innovative filtered and Prevent Duty compliant 4G dongle service.

According to figures from Ofcom however, they say 559,000 children do not have access to the internet at all, leaving hundreds of thousands of children still unable to access remote education.

The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) and the Carnegie UK Trust’s recent report, Closing the Digital Divide for Good, reports: “Over 76,000 wireless routers and over 33,000 increases to mobile data plans [were] provided to support children’s learning” during the last academic year.

The Connectivity Support Grant

Whilst there’s a long way to go to secure digital inclusion for all, and UNICEF UK is lobbying hard for this, the government has said a Connectivity Support Grant will be made available for schools who provide internet connections to help disadvantaged pupils who may need to learn remotely.

All eligible settings will be able to apply in January 2022 to cover costs incurred to support vulnerable children and young people’s access to the internet between 1 September to 31 December 2021. Schools will be able to claim up to £75 to cover these costs.

4G Dongles previously provided by the Department for Education (DfE) or Schools Broadband can still be used with a 4G SIM-only service from Schools Broadband, though the dongle must be unlocked. Instructions on how to do this are available from the DfE.

Many schools are ordering multiple quantities of dongles to keep in a ‘dongle library’ to lend to students as and when they are required.

The Schools Broadband mobile filtering and SIM-only service is designed exclusively for education, providing a safe and filtered learning environment for student home-learning. The service supports schools’ Prevent Duty compliance and KCSIE duties, is easy to use and has built-in monitoring, reporting and alert functions for Digital Safeguarding Leads. Packages start at £10 per month with both short and long-term contracts available.

How does 4G filtering work?

Unlike a standard mobile broadband connection, Schools Broadband fully controls the mobile data traffic from the carrier’s mobile network and terminates it on the Schools Broadband network in the same way we do with traditional broadband technologies such as FTTC and leased lines. This allows us to route all mobile broadband traffic through our hosted Netsweeper filtering and FortiGate firewall security, providing Local Authorities, Multi Academy Trusts, schools, colleges or any user with a Schools Broadband SIM card, the same safe, controllable and secure internet experience as they have in a school.

To date, the Schools Broadband 4G filtered service supports more than two thousand disadvantaged students.

David Tindall, CEO commented: “Knowing that we are helping to bridge the digital divide by providing such innovative technology is what Schools Broadband is all about. Many of our schools are now looking towards longer term contracts having recognised this is not a short-term issue, but a longer-term necessity for extended, personal and blended learning requirements.”

For more information contact: info@schoolsbroadband.co.uk 01133 222 333

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