Telecoms support for remote education, connectivity and digital skills
The UK telecommunications sector has announced a raft of supportive measures for disadvantaged children and young people, as the majority of the British population enters a new lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the latest restrictions for England on Monday 4 January, instructing people to stay at home. A key tenet of the new measures is the closure of English schools, with similar school closures and remote education arrangements in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
To ensure disadvantaged students can access virtual lessons and remote educational resources, a number of UK telecoms providers have pledged their support to children and schools across the country.
Three, Smarty, Virgin Mobile, EE, Tesco Mobile and Sky Mobile have signed up to the Department for Education’s Help with Technology programme, enabling schools and local authorities to request mobile data for children without a fixed connection at home, or unable to afford the additional data for devices. The programme also offers 4G wireless routers as an alternative to the data offer.
Connectivity needs are also being met by 350,000 free data SIMS from Vodafone through its schools.connected campaign and Virgin Media’s tailored broadband packages to help those facing financial difficulty. The support pledged by the UK’s telecoms networks and providers at the start of 2021 echo many of the existing measures offered at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, industry agreed a set of commitments with government and Ofcom to support and protect vulnerable consumers, such as help with bills and increased data allowances.
Support was given to frontline NHS staff who were offered the mobile data access, voice calls and text they need, at no extra cost, on their personal mobiles used for work purposes. Providers also gave their customers free access to health information websites such as nhs.uk.
Devices and content
For those without devices, DfE has pledged to deliver one million laptops and tablets to schoolchildren by Easter, and children will be able to access the BBC’s “biggest education offer in its history” across multiple platforms like Bitesize Daily from Monday 11 January. This builds on the continued support provided to vulnerable and disadvantaged young people by supplying digital devices and internet access. 560,000 devices have been provided so far—the outcome of efforts by Government and the tech industry in partnership to deliver rapid infrastructure transformation. Schools, educators, and parents must be given the right tools to ensure young people are safe online and able to continue their education while at home. To tackle the digital divide, 2020 also saw initiatives like Vodafone and Barnado’s ‘The Great British Tech Appeal’, BT’s Skills for Tomorrow training resource and Top Tips for Tech with ITV.
While these measures are as welcome in the new year as they were in 2020, it is clear more needs to be done to tackle the digital divide and ensure that every child in the UK can successfully learn and thrive in their homes. And while these efforts go a long way, we know that there is more urgently needed and we will be working with Government, the tech sector and education providers to explore how to target this support.
Latest News from
£3m to fund new wave of Artificial Intelligence for the Military15/01/2021 16:25:00
techUK members have won funding as part of the DASA Intelligent Ship Phase 2 competition.
Defence Digital and techUK publish joint list of signatories to collaboration Code of Practice15/01/2021 13:33:00
Following the recent launch of a new Code of Practice for collaboration, techUK and Defence Digital are delighted to share a joint list of MOD and industry signatories to the code.
Avon and Somerset Police Proof of Concept (PoC)15/01/2021 11:25:00
Guest Blog: Phillip Ridley, Senior Business Development Consultant at 1Spatial and 'Interoperability in Policing' Working Group member shares his recent work with Avon & Somerset Police in the world of spatial data.
Ofcom report: Technology Futures14/01/2021 16:05:00
The UK's communications regulator Ofcom has published a new report, Technology Futures, that shines a spotlight on the innovative, emerging technologies that could shape the communications industry in the future.
5G Create trials to utilise Open RAN14/01/2021 11:25:00
The UK Government’s 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme has announced the latest projects to receive funding for innovative new uses of 5G, following the 5G Create competition.
Digital Ethics Summit 2020 Day One- Lessons to be learnt from 202011/01/2021 14:25:00
Summary of day one at techUK's Digital Ethics Summit 2020.
Digital Ethics Summit 2020 Day Two- Moving Forward in 202111/01/2021 13:33:00
Summary of day two at techUK's Digital Ethics Summit 2020.
Contribute a case study to techUK’s landmark digital twins report!11/01/2021 09:15:00
techUK is aiming to kick-off 2021 in style with the release of a landmark report ‘Unlocking value across the UK’s digital twin ecosystem’.