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Whether you can get a broadband discount for homeschooling (opens in new tab) has been an issue weighing on a lot of families' minds recently.
The UK is in the midst of lockdown 3.0 (opens in new tab), schools closed and exams are cancelled for 2021 (opens in new tab). Many families and carers are rediscovering how to work from home and homeschool (opens in new tab) at the same time, with expenses to keep everything moving continuing to pile up.
There are also over 880,000 children in the UK who live in a home where there is no broadband and only a limited mobile internet connection. Reliable internet access is the difference between being able to learn from home or missing out on education whilst the schools are shut.
The idea of free or subsidised internet isn't a new one. However, there's never been a more important time for all children to have access to the internet for their education.
Can you get a broadband discount for homeschooling?
There's no blanket broadband discount for those homeschooling at the moment, but there are different schemes in place to help families access the internet for free or with a discount for their kids' education during lockdown.
Those in primary and secondary school who are struggling with internet access can apply for a free increase of mobile data through the new ‘Get Help with Tech (opens in new tab)’ scheme set up by the Department of Education.
The scheme also provides 4G wireless routers to those who need them. This means that families with more than one child can ensure that all kids have equal access to the internet - as it wouldn’t just be restricted to one device with one SIM full of data.
Aside from government-funded schemes, BT have also announced their own scheme to get families online in lockdown. This includes offering free and unlimited mobile data to EE and BT customers, as well as free WIFI vouchers for schools and charity partners, which would give families access to the internet from 5.5 million UK hotspots.
The company are also independently removing all the data charges for popular education websites, specifically to help families and carers supporting children with no internet access.
Who is eligible for the Get Help with Tech scheme?
At the moment, disadvantaged children in years 3 up to year 11 are eligible for free increases to their mobile data. You must also be a customer at one of the below providers and the offer differs between networks:
- EE - receive 20 GB of free data per month until July 2021
- BT - receive 20 GB of free data per month
- O2 - 40GB of data per month
- Sky Mobile
- Tesco Mobile
- Three - unlimited data every month
- Virgin Mobile
- Vodafone - 350,000 free data SIMS have been made available
As well as this, any child who doesn’t have access to a fixed-line broadband at home, can’t afford additional data for devices in general or is experiencing disruption to face-to-face learning could be entitled to the extra support given by the 4G wireless routers.
But unfortunately, parents or children can’t just apply to the scheme themselves.
How to apply for the government’s scheme
Families and carers should contact the child’s school who can make a request on their behalf for the increase in data, a 4G wireless router or even hardware, as the government has provided a succession of free laptops for children since last year.
“Parents, carers and pupils cannot apply for digital devices or internet access through this scheme themselves. They should contact their school to discuss requirements for accessing remote education.” A statement from the Department of Education reads.
This is because the government has given schools and local authorities these devices first hand via the Get Help with Tech website, in addition to the other devices and help offered to schools, trusts and local authorities during the summer last year.
To get things moving, schools will have to provide the name on the account of the child’s mobile provider, their phone number and the network that they’re on.
Grace Walsh is a Features Writer for Goodto.com, covering breaking news health stories during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as lifestyle and entertainment topics. She has worked in media since graduating from the University of Warwick in 2019 with a degree in Classical Civilisation and a year spent abroad in Italy. It was here that Grace caught the bug for journalism, after becoming involved in the university’s student newspaper and radio station.
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