Device ownership and distribution
Guidance on who owns devices, and information on insuring devices, asset management and loan agreements.
Who owns the devices
Ownership of devices is transferred from the Department for Education (DfE) to the local authorities (LAs), academy trusts, schools, colleges and further education (FE) providers who receive them at the point of delivery.
Devices for education: children and young people in schools and FE providers
The school, college, further education provider, trust or LA should retain ownership and lend the devices to those children and young people who need them. This gives them the ability to re-allocate the devices where required, for example, when different groups of pupils or students are required to self-isolate at different times.
LAs and trusts may choose to transfer ownership to schools and colleges.
Devices for social care: care leavers, children and families with a social worker
Ownership of devices is transferred from DfE to the local authorities (LAs) who receive them at the point of delivery.
Ideally, LAs should retain ownership and management of the devices and lend them to children, families and young people. This means that the device can be actively managed and can be reallocated where possible and necessary. LAs can also choose to transfer ownership to schools to manage them.
LAs can transfer ownership of the devices to the children, families and young people themselves in situations where the young person, family or child needs a different approach, eg. you may wish to gift laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers to care leavers.
LAs should consider safeguarding when deciding whether to gift a device and involve relevant parties (such as social workers, schools and carers) in making the decision.
Guidance on safe internet use should be provided when devices are lent or gifted.
What to do if a child or young person no longer meets the criteria to have a device
There will be circumstances where a child or young person no longer meets the criteria under which a device was provided, for example, they no longer receive support from a social worker.
LAs and trusts will have decided to provide a device based on their assessment of need and consideration of safeguarding concerns for that individual child or young person. LAs, trusts or the school (that the device has been gifted to) are best placed to identify if a device should be recalled or if the child or young person should retain it.
If a child or young person has moved to another area
Where a device has been lent to a child that moves to live under the remit of another LA, the original LA can decide whether to recall the device or to pass on the management of the device to a child or young person’s school or another LA (with their agreement). This should be negotiated with the new LA or school.
If a child or young person has changed school
If a device has been gifted to a school and the child changes school, we would encourage a conversation between the releasing school, the new school and the LA about ongoing use, ownership and management of the device.
If the device is going to the child’s new school, the previous school should uninstall any software it has added to the device, unless licences are transferred with the device, and make it clear what actions it has taken so that the new school can consider what steps it needs to take following receipt of the device.
LAs can decide how best to meet the needs of vulnerable children and young people. We anticipate LAs and trusts will safely distribute devices to children and young people that need them as soon as it is manageable to do so.
However, if LAs have any concerns about lending or gifting a device to a child or young person due to safeguarding reasons, LAs can use their judgement about next steps. LAs may decide that the device should:
- not be given to that child or young person and that other forms of contact are more appropriate
- be used only in supervised contexts (with the social worker or with the support of the school)
- be managed by the school
- be used for other children or young people who would benefit from it, outside the eligible groups
LAs may also have valid reasons for retaining a pool of devices. For example, the LA may want to hold back some provision for future distribution to children and young people (for instance in anticipation of an increase in demand on children’s social care services).
Laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers ordered from September 2020 will be delivered directly to schools, colleges, further education providers or LAs named in the order. Read guidance on how to order laptops and tablets or 4G wireless routers for more information on the delivery process.
Organisations are responsible for deciding how they deliver devices. For example, they can:
- arrange for them to be collected
- organise for them to be delivered to the homes of pupils, students and care leavers
- arrange for schools, colleges and further education providers to deliver them
- use local organisations, such as those supporting care leavers
All distribution and return of lent devices should be done in accordance with social distancing guidelines relevant to your local area.
Redistributing unused 4G wireless routers
LAs, academy trusts, schools, colleges and further education providers can use the Support Portal to see how much data is being used by each router they are responsible for. If you identify routers that are not being used, you may wish to collect them and lend them to other children and young people who may have greater need.
LAs, academy trusts, schools, colleges and further education providers could consider using loan agreements when they choose to lend devices to children and young people. This agreement could set out the terms and conditions, including who is responsible for what.
The Key for School Leaders has templates and examples of how to set these up.
Insuring your devices
The Key for School Leaders has some suggestions about arranging insurance.
Labelling or tagging devices
Laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers will not be tagged or labelled when they are delivered. Schools, colleges, further education providers, LAs and trusts are responsible for implementing their own security and tracking methods.
You will invalidate the warranty on your device if you use any permanent method of labelling or tagging the laptop or tablet.
See the guidance on preparing devices for information on setting up mobile device management (MDM) and keeping records of devices.
Lost, stolen or sold devices
The LA, trust, school or further education provider should make clear to recipients of devices that it is unlawful for any lent device to be sold by a student or their family. If a lent device is lost, stolen or sold, or where recall is not possible, organisations should follow any existing protocol they may have for lost, stolen or missing devices.
Where an LA, trust, school, college or further education provide has a safeguarding concern relating to a device that they suspect has been lost, stolen or sold they should contact us.
Get help with your devices
How to get started with your 4G wireless router