Government fund will help with ‘technical set up’ of free platforms
The government has established a £14.2m fund to help schools and colleges connect to digital learning platforms.
The money is being made available by the Department for Education to cover the set-up costs of accessing one of two free remote-education platforms: the Google Classroom-based G-Suite for Education; and the Office 365 Education tool, which runs on Microsoft Teams.
According to schools minister Nick Gibb, the fund is being offered to schools that “do not have a digital education platform [or] have access to Office 365 Education or G Suite for Education, but are not yet set up to assign work and communicate with pupils and students”.
“The funding covers the technical set up of the platform including all staff, pupil and student accounts,” he added.
Support is available for state-funded, primary, secondary and special schools, as well as pupil referral units, and further-education and sixth-form colleges.
Some £4.8m of support has so far been provided to a total of 5,133 schools across England. This equates to £935 per school.
The biggest contingent of schools to have received funding so far, 968, are based in south-east England and the southern half of London. A further 937 are from north London and south-central England.
Other regions include: Lancashire and West Yorkshire (851 schools); East Midlands and the Humber (579); West Midlands (525); South West England (519); the East of England and the North East (481); and the North of England (273).
A further £9.43m is available through the scheme – for which are eligible approximately an additional 21,700 schools and colleges that have not yet applied. If funding provided to each institution remained at an average of £935, enough money would be left to support a further 10,085 applicants.
Gibb, who was answering a series of written parliamentary questions from Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, said that the DfE had limited the programme to only two platforms as these were the most appropriate.
“The Microsoft and Google platforms were chosen as they are free to use to the education sector and had the unified technology and support to set up and deliver effective remote education provision,” he said. “Google and Microsoft also offer several features and functionalities that are suitable for school needs.”
The minister added: “The department wants to ensure all schools are set up with a remote learning platform and are keeping this under constant review.”