Laptops and tablets data


Estimating the number of laptops and tablets

For the 2020 to 2021 academic year, the Department for Education (DfE) is providing laptops, tablets and connectivity support to schools, colleges, other FE institutions, academy trusts (trusts) and local authorities (LAs) to help children and young people access remote education during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Laptops and tablets have been made available, if there is no existing access to a device or for children for: 

  • disadvantaged children in years 3 to 11 and young people in 16 to 19 education whose face-to-face education is disrupted
  • disadvantaged children in any year group who have been advised to shield because they (or someone they live with) are clinically extremely vulnerable
  • disadvantaged children in any year group attending a hospital school
  • disadvantaged 14 to 16-year-olds enrolled for Key Stage 4 at sixth-form colleges and whose face-to-face education is disrupted

The number of devices available for schools, colleges and other FE institutions to order through the Get help with technology service reflects the number of laptops and tablets DfE estimates are needed by each school or college. This calculation is based on free school meals data/free meal data and an estimate of the number of devices a school or college already has and private device ownership. If a school, college, other FE institution, trust or LA requires additional devices, they can contact DfE and more devices can be made available.

These devices are in addition to those DfE provided during the 2020 summer term to LAs and trusts for children, families and young people most in need.

The DfE does not hold centrally recorded information on the onward distribution to families, children and young people. DfE has advised that devices are to be used to support disadvantaged children and young people who are otherwise unable to access remote education.

Examples of this include disadvantaged children and young people:

  • with no digital devices in their household
  • whose only available device is a smartphone
  • with a single device in their household that is being shared with more than one other family member

Connectivity data

Increasing data allowances on mobile devices

This scheme temporarily increases data allowances for mobile phone users on certain networks. This will allow other devices to connect to the internet via a mobile phone so children and young people can access remote education if their face-to-face education is disrupted.

Schools, colleges, further education institutions, trusts and local authorities (ordering for maintained schools) in England can request mobile data increases for disadvantaged children and young people in years 3 to 13 and students in further education. They must meet all 3 of these criteria:

  • do not have fixed broadband at home
  • cannot afford additional data for their devices
  • are experiencing disruption to their face-to-face education

Schools, trusts and local authorities can also make requests for children and young people who meet the criteria above, and are:

  • in any year group up to year 11 and have been advised to shield because they (or someone they live with) are clinically extremely vulnerable
  • in any year group up to year 11 attending a hospital school

Mobile data increases are currently not available for:

  • children who typically receive home education (also known as 'elective home education' or 'home schooling’)
  • care leavers who are not attending school or further education

Requesting a mobile data increase

Requests can only be made by someone who’s been nominated to order devices through the Get help with technology service.

For each request, we need to know:

  • the name of the mobile phone account holder
  • the number of the mobile device
  • the mobile network of that device (for example Three)
  • whether they pay monthly or pay as they go

4G wireless routers 

DfE is providing 4G wireless routers for disadvantaged children and young people to help them get online and access remote education.  We recommend checking if children can access free mobile data increases as described above before requesting a router.

You can request 4G wireless routers for disadvantaged children and young people if:

  • their face-to-face education has been disrupted
  • they do not have internet access at home
  • they cannot get a mobile data increase

Routers are available for disadvantaged:

  • pupils in years 3 to 11
  • students in 16 to 19 further education who receive free meals
  • pupils in any year group who have been advised to shield because they (or someone they live with) are clinically extremely vulnerable
  • pupils in any year group, including those in 16 to 19 education, attending a hospital school

Caveats and data quality

Devices and 4G wireless routers

The Department for Education (DfE) do not collect delivery receipt data for devices or 4G wireless routers. The cost of collecting this data, which would require tracking a large network of different couriers that use different systems, would outweigh the benefits. 

The data reported here is not representative of devices or routers reaching children. From the point of delivery to the school or college, that school or college is responsible for distributing the devices or routers to disadvantaged children. 

The dispatched or delivered data includes a very small number of devices or routers that have been shipped as replacements due to technical issues or are being swapped for a different persona and the original device has not yet been returned.  This can cause minor changes to our total figures by LA and trust over time. 

The devices and 4G wireless routers data is produced by Computacenter on behalf of the Department for Education.  Schools and Colleges place their orders in an order management system which is supported by a SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform. Quality checks operate every day within the ERP platform.  If a data error is reported, this would lead to a full investigation using Computacenter’s quality management system, and would be disclosed immediately to the Department for Education.

Mobile data increase offer

The data reported on the mobile data increase offer shows the total number of requests that have been completed by all providers supporting the scheme. Duplicate requests, meaning a request with the exact same name, number and network, have been identified and removed from the dataset. Where sets of duplicates were found with at least one completed request, the completed request was retained and duplicates removed.

Sets of the same number with close matches of name, for example where a middle name or title was present on one but not the other, or one was all in lower or upper case, were also identified. In these cases, the completed request was retained and other(s) deleted. 

Help and support

Contact us

If you have a specific enquiry about Laptops and tablets data statistics and data:

Get help with technology

Contact name: Annalise Halsall

Press office

If you have a media enquiry:

Telephone: 020 7783 8300

Public enquiries

If you have a general enquiry about the Department for Education (DfE) or education:

Telephone: 037 0000 2288

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