Beating the Burden of Digital Demands
Homeschooling has raised a lot of issues for families, schools and children. Time management, room to study, ever changing regulations and motivation are just a few basic hurdles. The lack of tech and the digital divide has also become a very prominent issue. At Tarner Community Project we are working alongside Level Up Laptops to collect physical and monetary donations, so we are able to supply refurbished laptops to schools and children, but then what… A lot of people are struggling with limited data plans, an accelerated demand on home wifi and poor broadband speeds. So what can be done to reduce the burden of digital demands and what difference does it really make?
Well just recently Vodaphone has donated 1000 wifi dongles nationwide and Lyca 1000 simcards, this is the response from from the children on a Sussex Radio interview:
“I feel good and grateful because I can do my online learning with my friends and teachers…”
“You can do Google Meets with your friends and the teachers and then we can see them as well which makes me feel happy.”
“They are really amazing and I look forward to doing some work on it”
There is hope
The government has partnered up with some major providers with their Get Help with Technology scheme, (GHWT), which you can apply for through your child’s school. There is also independent support with data caps, free upgrades and assess.
We have sourced some further information for you on these available schemes, but it is recommended that you ask your provider and school directly what they have in place as this information may change.
Which Mobile Networks can increase Data
UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has also worked with providers to establish a number of measures to help children access their online classes while learning from home:
- Data caps removed from all major UK broadband providers’ packages for free unlimited use
- Special affordable ‘essential’ tariffs run by a number of providers for vulnerable customers and those on low incomes
- For those without a broadband connection, mobile data caps have been lifted to allow unlimited access to the internet on mobile devices
Lycamobile has partnered with the GHWT to give eligible families 20GB of free data per month to support children’s learning until the end of the school year
Zen lowers the price of its full fibre broadband packages by around 10% to support homeschooling and remote working
Hyperoptic is offering free broadband packages for families to help facilitate home education
Vodafone offering free and discounted access to online learning resources, including Azoomee, MarcoPolo World School, SchoolOnline.co.uk, and New Skills Academy.
Virgin Media have announced a wave of customer support measures, including making some pay and on-demand services available at no extra cost and the GHWT providing 20GB of additional mobile data per month for families facing financial difficulties, and free data, minutes, and texts for vulnerable customers.
O2 is providing 40GB of free data a month to support home schooling families struggling to connect during lockdown via GHWT.
Three Pay as You Go or any contract are provided with unlimited data upgrades to disadvantaged school children in England through their families that will be applied until the end of the school year in July.
BT has announced its ‘Lockdown Learning’ support scheme for children and families that have limited access to the internet, offering free mobile data, WiFi vouchers, and zero-rating a number of education websites. BT has been offering free BT WiFi vouchers for internet access since June. These have been distributed through GHWTS.
Get Help with Technology Government Scheme
Government and Schools are working together to increasing data allowances on mobile devices to support disadvantaged children
Schools, local authorities and trusts can request an increase in mobile data for a child or parent who has an existing mobile contract with a participating network if they are unable to access broadband internet at home. Most providers have additional conditions that account holders must meet. Note that not all participating networks can support pay-as-you-go customers.
The recipient will get an increase in mobile data on a monthly basis until July 2021
Who can get help
Schools, trusts and local authorities (ordering for maintained schools) in England can request mobile data increases for disadvantaged children and young people in years 3 to 11 who are not able to attend school due to national lockdown restrictions. They must meet all 3 of these criteria:
- do not have fixed broadband at home
- cannot afford additional data for their devices
- are experiencing disruption to their face-to-face education
Schools, trusts and local authorities can also make requests for children and young people who meet the criteria above, and are:
- in any year group and have been advised to shield because they (or someone they live with) are clinically extremely vulnerable
- in any year group attending a hospital school
Mobile data increases are currently not available for:
- children who typically receive home education (also known as ‘elective home education’ or ‘home schooling’)
- care leavers who are not attending school or further education
- students in further education
Children with access to a mobile phone on one of the following networks might be able to benefit:
- BT Mobile
- Sky Mobile
- Tesco Mobile
- Virgin Mobile
How to request a mobile data increase
The school your child attends makes requests on your behalf. So check if your school is aware of the scheme and if you think you qualify speak to your child’s teacher and ask for help.
For each request the following information will be required:
- the name of the mobile phone account holder
- the number of the mobile device
- the mobile network of that device (for example Three)
- whether they pay monthly or pay as they go
Once a network provider has completed a data increase, they’ll send a text message to the account holder. It’s also possible to check the status of requests through our online service.
How you can make a difference
Donate your Spare Devices
Tarner Community Project has teamed up with Level Up Laptops, a charity initiative created by Brighton based social prospecting company SoPro, to generate laptop and monetary donations so that computer equipment can be refurbished and given to local school children struggling to access online learning resources.
To donate your unused laptop please fill our DONATION FORM and we will arrange pickup / drop off. For us to refurbish devices to the standards required by schools, devices need to meet the following requirements.
Laptops: 12” screen / Has windows 7, 8 or 10 installed / Wi-Fi capabilities and a webcam.
Chromebooks: 2016 or newer
Tablets: iPads – 2016 or newer / Android – 2016 or newer