BT has joined forces with the UK government’s Department for Education (DfE) to help the most in-need children in England with online learning. The UK’s biggest broadband supplier says it will provide six months free access to the families most in-need of connectivity – helping schoolchildren stay online and access vital learning materials published by teachers on online learning portals due to the ongoing pandemic.
This free broadband package will be made possible via BT’s 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.
These BT WiFi hotposts are typically used by BT customers to keep connected when out-and-about without access to mobile networks. Customers can join a BT WiFi network while in a cafe, park or around a friends’ house. But those with a BT WiFi hotspot close enough to home will now be able to use it to submit assessments and download crucial learning materials.
The voucher will also allow access with comprehensive content filtering and will point to online resources from BT’s own Skills for Tomorrow and Barefoot learning programmes, as well as BBC Bitesize and others.
BT is offering some customers free broadband
BT says the scheme will be offered to those who are most in need and is available now. Speaking about the news, BT Consumer Division CEO Marc Allera said: “Supporting children’s education in these difficult times is a major priority for BT. Through our Skills for Tomorrow programme, we already have a whole raft of fun and engaging online resources to help children learn at home.
“Offering up our Wi-fi 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.”
And Nick Gibb, School Standards Minister, added: “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.
There is further work with telecommunications companies to provide mobile data support to school children who are unable to access 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.
Those who qualify will be informed via Local Authorities and Academy Trusts who will be invited to request vouchers, working with their schools to identify those children who are most in need.
For more information about this project or the pilot, you can contact COVID.TECHNOLOGY@education.gov.uk.