Disadvantaged children will have access to free internet for six months to learn from home - what you need to know

Children from disadvantaged families throughout England will be provided with six months free internet access, in order to help with online learning during the coronavirus pandemic (Photo: Shutterstock)

Children from disadvantaged families throughout England will be provided with six months free internet access, in order to help with online learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The plan follows the Department for Education’s (DfE) initiative, which was announced in April, aiming to help children access vital learning resources online.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Why the initiative was set up

The Department for Education (DfE) has teamed up with BT to open millions of WiFi hotspots from Wednesday (17 June).

This initiative comes after fears that millions of pupils are doing no work from home, and the majority of school children are not likely to go back to school until September.

During the coronavirus crisis, organisations have raised concerns that the attainment gap between pupils from poorer backgrounds and their wealthier peers has grown, in part due to a lack of access to technology.

How it will work

Access to these hotspots will be provided via a BT WiFi voucher-code. This will allow school children to get online on up to three devices at a time, for a period of six months.

The voucher will allow access to the internet with comprehensive content filtering, alongside online resources and learning programmes.

Distribution will be handled directly by the DfE, which will issue families with voucher usernames and passwords.

WiFi hotspots will allow ‘important digital learning’

Marc Allera, chief executive of BT’s consumer division, said: “Offering up our WiFi hotspots estate will ensure that thousands more children will ultimately be able to keep up with their important digital learning and online schoolwork for the rest of term and over the summer holidays as well as into the autumn.”

Alongside the new hotpot vouchers, more than 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, have already been provided.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb, 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.”