Children with a social worker to be given devices to help them access support
Care leavers, children with a social worker and children arriving from Afghanistan will be given laptops and tablets as part of a government initiative.
Up to half a million children and young people in England will receive devices to support their education and help keep them connected to peers and professionals through a £126 million funding programme.
Announcing the initiative ahead of Care Leavers Week (25-31 October), the Government says the expansion of the Get Help with Technology programme will provide up to 10,000 devices for children with a social worker and those leaving care. It says laptops and tablets will help vulnerable young people stay in touch with their social workers, personal advisors and wider support networks, along with supporting their education or training.
Devices will also be allocated to children who have recently arrived from Afghanistan, to help them adjust to life in England and support their education.
The Government says additional devices will be provided to schools and colleges to help give children and young people who are not in school or college due to COVID-19 access to lessons, keeping them connected to their classmates and teachers.
Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, said the programme will help drive the Government’s work to ‘level up’ long term outcomes for those in care or leaving care.
“This added investment builds on the 1.3 million laptops and tablets we have already provided during the pandemic, helping all children and young people, no matter their background, to access education and support for a better and brighter future,” Zahawi said.
On Twitter, charities and campaigners welcomed the initiative but questioned whether the £126m of funding was truly ‘new’.
The Learning Foundation, a charity supporting schools in closing attainment gaps through technology, said: “This is fantastic news however we still have a long way ahead of us to ensure that every child in the UK has access to a device with the ability to get online.”
The Government says the announcement will build on the work of the Care Leaver Ministerial Board which it says is improving opportunities for care leavers as they proceed to independence and adulthood, alongside the ongoing review of children’s social care.
Schools, colleges and councils will be invited during November and December to order their allocation of devices, which will be determined by the proportion of pupils on free school meals and numbers of care leavers in each local authority. The Department for Education says it is also making £13 million available to schools and colleges that need to buy IT support to set up the devices. The funding also covers the costs of resetting and reconfiguring devices previously received via Get Help With Technology, which will allow schools to make full use of them in the long-term.
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