08
January
2021
|
19:12
Europe/Amsterdam

Our Lockdown Learning Support Scheme will help kids who need it most with unlimited data and more for virtual schooling

Connectivity is essential for children to keep up with learning at home during the pandemic. We want to help ensure no one is left behind while face-to-face teaching is on hold. That's why BT is increasing its effort to enable disadvantaged school kids to better connect to their teachers and online learning with a package of things in our ‘Lockdown Learning Support Scheme’.

We’ve created it to ensure the people who need it most can access connectivity support across both our fixed and mobile networks. We're extending our partnership with the Department for Education so that eligible BT and EE customers will benefit from unlimited mobile data. Plus we’re giving thousands of free WiFi vouchers to schools and our charity partners to distribute so anyone can access the widest range of online educational resources via one of our five million WiFi Hotspots across the UK.

We’re also aiming to zero-rate some of the most popular dedicated online learning portals to ensure critical learning can continue even when data access runs out. We’ll confirm more on this in the coming week, but we know this will make a difference for those trying to connect to these sites with limited mobile data.

Eligible families without fixed connectivity at home can apply for their unlimited free data via their school or local authority, as part of BT’s partnership with the Department for Education. It will cover them for the rest of the academic year, running until July 2021. We’ve been working closely with the DfE since the start of the pandemic to help get kids connected, and we’re now stepping up our partnership to offer unlimited data, as well as working harder on getting free WiFi passes into the hands of those families and kids who need them. You can read more about our partnership with the DfE here

Here’s a summary of what BT’s Lockdown Learning Support Scheme will provide:

  • Unlimited mobile data for EE and BT Mobile customers without a fixed connection in partnership with DfE

  • Free WiFi vouchers for schools and charity partners to distribute to those who need it most, so that disadvantaged kids and those without a network connection can access home learning resources

  • Zero-rating two of the most popular educational websites

It's a continuation of the work we have been doing since the first lockdown was introduced in March last year. We were the first telecoms operator to support families who needed help with connecting for home learning, making BT WiFi vouchers available to those who needed them in June. BT will now distribute WiFi vouchers directly to schools and charity partners, enabling those families and carers with little or no connection to access the five million BT WiFi Hotspots available across the UK. While it might not reach everyone, we feel even getting one more kid able to home school is worth the effort.

BT also offers a social tariff for low income families - BT Basic, a £10 per month fixed broadband and phone line service. With priority connection, this long-term solution offers low income families a sustainable option that meets their data needs.

Talking long-term, we want to give school children the digital skills they need for a brighter future with our Skills for Tomorrow programme. To that end, through our Barefoot Computing programme in partnership with Computing at School, BT has made a series of educational and fun activities available to support home learning. Designed with teachers and aligned to the national curriculum, these interactive learning games and simple offline activities introduce children aged 4-11 years to key computing concepts and problem-solving skills that will help them thrive in a digital world. To access the free resources visit www.barefootcomputing.org/homelearning

We don't want anyone to be left behind as digital connectivity becomes more and more important. Our Skills for Tomorrow portal is full of free courses to help anyone, any age, feel more confident and develop their digital skills. You can find out more here.

Marc Allera, CEO, BT’s Consumer brands. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MarcAllera