The Daily Mirror has today reported that the Department rejected an offer from BT of cheap broadband for disadvantaged families. This is not true - and the department enjoys a good working relationship with BT and EE.
Last year, the department ran a pilot in partnership with BT, to provide children and young people free access to a BT wifi hotspot. Through the pilot, 10,000 BT codes were sent to Local Authorities and trusts for them to pass on to disadvantaged families so that they could access a BT wifi connection until 31 December 2020.
Following testing this offer didn’t meet children and young people’s needs for a reliable and consistent internet connection to access remote education and, as a result, was not taken forward.
We are working with some of the UK’s leading mobile network operators, including Vodafone, O2 EE, which is part of BT, and others to provide free data to disadvantaged families, which does support access to education resources, including Oak National Academy, and other websites.
We have also already provided over 54,000 4G wireless routers, with free data for the academic year, and continue to provide 4G wireless routers, where children need to access remote education and are continuing to work with the sector to explore more solutions.
We are continuing to work with the sector, including BT, to discuss further ways to support remote education.