DfE spends £3m on security software for laptop scheme

Department is to deploy Cisco Umbrella products

Credit: Pxhere

The Department for Education has spent £2.8m on Cisco security software to protect the laptops it is providing to children who would otherwise lack access to computing platforms during the coronavirus crisis.

The DfE has just begun the process of rolling out more than 200,000 laptops and tablets, which will be allocated to local authorities and academy trusts based on how estimates of how many of their pupils are eligible for the scheme. Devices are being provided to “vulnerable and disadvantaged” children that are care leavers, supported by a social worker, or are preparing for year 10 exams. Devices will be provided with 4G dongles to enable internet connectivity.

The government has committed an estimated £85m to the scheme, and a newly published contract notice reveals that £2.8m has been spent on a year-long deal for Cisco Umbrella licences. The software will be supplied and supported by IT services firm Computacenter. 

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The DfE said: “The contract relates to the provision of an internet content filtering software in order to meet the Department for Education’s requirement to limit access to relevant and safe content in the internet for vulnerable and disadvantaged children in England, through devices provided by the Department as part of an initiative to make remote education and social care services accessible for children and young people during the coronavirus outbreak. Schools and local authorities will also have the ability to install their own content filtering set up on devices that best suits their needs.”

The deal came into effect on 14 May and runs until 13 May 2021. The contract was awarded via lot three of the Technology Products and Associated Services framework.


Sam Trendall

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