Who owns the devices
Guidance on who owns devices, and information on insuring devices, asset management and loan agreements.
Who owns the devices
Ownership of laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers is transferred from the DfE to the local authorities (LAs), academy trusts, schools, colleges and further education (FE) institutions that receive them at the point of delivery.
We expect organisations to decide how best to make devices available to disadvantaged children and young people so they can access remote education, face-to-face learning, and online social care when needed.
As device owners, these organisations can choose how and when to temporarily lend or permanently give them to children and young people in need, or to other organisations.
Options for lending or giving devices to children, young people and other organisations
You must consider safeguarding when making your decision. For example, we do not recommend giving DfE Restricted Windows devices to children and young people without considering what will happen when the temporary content filtering and mobile device management settings expire on 30 September 2021.
Guidance on safe internet use should be provided when devices are lent or given to people and organisations.
Option 1: Lending devices to children and young people
LAs, trusts, schools, colleges and FE institutions should consider retaining ownership and management of the devices, and lending them to children, families and young people.
The benefits are:
- safeguarding device settings, such as content filtering and mobile device management (MDM), can be maintained
- children and young people can access IT support from the device owner if needed
- devices can be redistributed to other children and young people as needs change
Option 2: Permanently giving devices to other organisations
LAs, trusts, schools, colleges and FE institutions can choose to give devices to other organisations, such as a school. The new owner can then decide how to distribute them to children and young people in need.
LAs that have been allocated devices for state-funded pupils in independent special schools and alternative provision can give devices to those settings. You should make sure that DfE devices will only be distributed to their state-funded pupils as a condition of your agreement to transfer ownership to them.
Option 3: Permanently giving devices to children and young people
LAs, trusts, schools, colleges and FE institutions can choose to give devices to children, young people and families, where appropriate. This may include giving devices to care leavers.
Before making this decision, you should consider:
- safeguarding - relevant parties (such as social workers, schools or carers) should be involved in making this decision
- online safety if device settings expire - for example, we do not recommend gifting DfE Restricted Windows devices before replacing their temporary safeguarding and management settings
- how IT support will be provided - you should let the recipient know how to get help if their device develops a fault (DfE cannot provide ongoing IT support)
What to do if circumstances change for children and young people
If a child or young person no longer meets the eligibility 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 may no longer receive support from a social worker.
If this happens, the LA, trust, school, college or FE institution that owns the device should assess the needs of the child or young person, including safeguarding. They can then decide whether to let the recipient continue using the device, or ask them to return it.
If a device has been permanently given to a child or young person, it's their property.
If a child or young person moves to another educational setting
Children and young people may be given devices by one educational setting, then move to another. If this happens, the settings can decide to transfer device ownership between them.
If this is agreed, the educational setting that owns the device should uninstall any software it has added, unless licences are being transferred too. They should let the new educational setting know what changes have been made, so that the device can be set up and secured appropriately again.
If a care leaver or child with a social worker moves to another area
If an LA has given a child or young person a device and that person moves area, the LA can:
- discuss transferring ownership of the device with the new LA, a relevant educational setting, or to the child or care leaver themself (if it’s safe and appropriate to do so)
- asking the child or young person to return the device so that it can be redistributed within the LA
Deciding how to distribute devices
LAs, trusts, schools, colleges and FE institutions can decide how best to meet the needs of vulnerable children and young people. We anticipate these organisations will safely distribute devices to people who need them as soon as possible.
Your organisation is best placed to review the needs of the people in your care. If you have any concerns about lending or giving a device to a child or young person due to safeguarding reasons, you can use your judgement about next steps. For example, you may decide that the device should:
- not be given to that child or young person because other forms of contact are more appropriate
- only be used in supervised contexts (with a social worker, or support of an educational setting)
- be managed by an educational setting
- be used for other children or young people who would benefit from it, outside of eligible groups
LAs, academy trusts, schools, colleges and further education institutions 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're delivered. Schools, colleges, further education institutions, LAs and trusts are responsible for implementing their own security and tracking methods.
You may 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 institution 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 provider has a safeguarding concern relating to a device that they suspect has been lost, stolen or sold they should contact us.