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Who could get laptops and tablets, and why DfE provided them

Find out who could order devices and why.


Devices for schools, colleges, academy trusts and local authorities

From October 2021 until March 2022, DfE provided support to help disadvantaged children and young people who were otherwise unable to access remote education. DfE also followed a similar policy from September 2020 to June 2021.

Examples of this include disadvantaged children:

  • with no digital devices in their household
  • whose only available device was a smartphone
  • with a single device in their household shared with more than one other family member
  • who did not have access to the internet at home.

This offer applied to maintained schools, pupil referral units, academy trusts and hospital schools, as well as sixth-form colleges and further education institutions that had enrolled 14 to 16-year-olds.

They were also able to request internet access for disadvantaged children through increased mobile phone data allowances or 4G wireless routers.

Devices were available for disadvantaged pupils and students

  • in years 3 to 13 who did not have access to a device and whose face-to-face education was disrupted
  • aged 16 to 19 who received free meals in further education
  • over the age of 19 with an education, health and care plan (EHCP) who also received free meals
  • in any year group who were advised to shield during the COVID-19 pandemic because they (or someone they live with) was clinically extremely vulnerable
  • in any year group, including those in 16 to 19 education, who attended a hospital school
  • in years 3 to 13 with state-funded places in independent special schools or alternative provision, who were eligible for free school meals.

Laptops were also available for care leavers aged 16 to 25.

Find out how we calculated how many devices could be ordered.

Laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers provided during the 2020 summer term

DfE provided laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers to local authorities and academy trusts during the 2020 summer term.

These were distributed to disadvantaged families, children and young adults who did not have access to them through another source, such as their school.

Laptops and tablets were provided for:

  • care leavers
  • children and young people aged 0 to 19, or young children with a social worker
  • disadvantaged year 10 pupils in the 2019 to 2020 academic year.

4G wireless routers were provided for those who did not have internet access. They were provided for:

  • care leavers
  • secondary school pupils with a social worker
  • disadvantaged year 10 pupils in the 2019 to 2020 academic year.

A care leaver is someone aged 16 to 25 who was looked after by a local authority for at least 13 weeks (at least part of which was on or after their 16th birthday), but who is no longer looked after.

These digital devices were provided to help:

  • social workers to provide virtual safeguarding and support to the children and families they work with via video conferences, for example
  • children, young people, families and care leavers to access the online services they need to protect their wellbeing
  • families and care leavers to avoid social isolation
  • children and young people to access remote learning.