Since Boris Johnson announced on 4 January 2021 that all schools in England were to close, parents and children have once again faced the reality of homeschooling. While technology these days means that virtual classes are possible, not everybody has access to what they need. So how can you get help with homeschooling?
How can I get help with homeschooling?
If you are in need of a little help, there are schemes available.
Get Help with Technology
The government promised to deliver laptops to schools for children who are in need of them.
Schools can apply for devices for the following people through the Get Help with Technology scheme:
- Disadvantaged children in years 3 to 11 whose face-to-face education is disrupted.
- Children who are disadvantaged and are shielding.
- 16 to 18 years olds who are disadvantaged and whose education at sixth form college has been disrupted.
If you are a parent in need of a little help, then your best bet is to contact your child’s school, college or further education provider. They will then be aware of your need when they allocate the devices they receive through the scheme.
Bridge the Divide
Charities like The London Grid for Learning (LGFL) are also making a difference.
The Bridge the Divide programme plans to procure two million Chromebooks, Winbooks and iPads. The idea is that buying in bulk will reduce the price. This will make it easier to get laptops into schools and to disadvantaged children.
While as a parent you won’t be able to directly access this programme, it is worth knowing that organisations are trying to address the huge imbalance between demand and supply.
Mobile operators are also doing their bit to try to help with homeschooling. As some households only have a mobile Internet connection, they are promising zero-rate data on certain educational sites.
EE, BT Mobile, Plusnet Mobile, Virgin Mobile, O2, Three and Vodafone have made online materials provided by the Oak National Academy free to access during lockdown.
Meanwhile, BT, Plusnet and EE are also offering free access to BBC Bitesize resources, and Vodafone is giving 350,000 free data SIMs to disadvantaged children.
It’s not only Internet devices that are needed, but also access to broadband.
Under its Lockdown Learning programme, BT is offering a cheaper tariff of £10 a month for low-income families.
Meanwhile, Virgin has promised to give customers who pay for speeds under 100Mbps a free boost to higher speeds during lockdown. And Hyperoptic is offering full-fibre broadband for free to households able to get on its network for the rest of the school year.
Can I get financial help during lockdown?
The return of lockdown and homeschooling could also have a financial impact on your household. But there is still help available.
Extending furlough and keeping the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) going is the government’s way of supporting households.
Meanwhile, if you have lost your job due to coronavirus, you could qualify for new benefits. Things like the New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance, Universal Credit or Pension Credit. For more details on all of this, head to the work and the financial support section on the gov.uk website.
And if you want more information on everything to do with coronavirus, visit our resources page, where you will find articles on important topics such as eviction notices being banned and steps you can take to protect your finances during the crisis.
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