Care leavers, children with a social worker and children arriving from Afghanistan will receive laptops and tablets to enable them to access education and support.
New investment builds on support for disadvantaged young people, to complement classroom teaching.
An additional half a million devices will be provided to schools, colleges and councils over the coming months, building on the 1.3 million already delivered during the pandemic.
Up to half a million more disadvantaged children and young people in England will receive new devices to support their education and help keep them connected to peers and professionals, through a £126 million funding programme.
Ahead of Care Leavers Week (25-31 October), the government has today announced an expansion of the Get Help with Technology programme, with up to 10,000 devices for children with a social worker and those leaving care.
Laptops and tablets will help these vulnerable young people stay in touch with their social workers, personal advisors and wider support networks, along with supporting their education or training.
Devices will also be allocated to children who have recently arrived from Afghanistan, to help them to adjust to life in England and support their education.
Additional devices will be provided to schools and colleges to help give children and young people who are not in school or college due to Covid access to lessons, keeping them connected to their classmates and teachers.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said:
“Our £126 million investment in laptops and tablets for those children who need them most will complement learning in school, and help drive our work to level up long term outcomes for those in care or leaving care.
"This added investment builds on the 1.3 million laptops and tablets we have already provided during the pandemic, helping all children and young people, no matter their background, to access education and support for a better and brighter future.”
We're investing £126m so disadvantaged children, care leavers, children with a social worker and children arriving from Afghanistan will receive laptops and tablets in England 💻📱— Nadhim Zahawi (@nadhimzahawi) October 22, 2021
These additional devices will level up opportunities for children and young people. pic.twitter.com/PoK98r6JDF
Jonathan Freeman, CEO of the CareTech Charitable Foundation, said:
“The life outcomes of care-experienced young people in terms of higher education and employment are distressingly poor. This investment in the practical support of such young people by the Government is much-needed and very welcome.
"Sadly, though, there is so much more to be done to ensure that those leaving care can realise their true potential.”
James Bowen, director of policy for school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“No pupil should be disadvantaged or lose out on learning simply because of a lack of access to the relevant technology, so the announcement that more pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds will receive devices is clearly welcome.
"It is essential that there is now an efficient process in place for getting these devices to the pupils that need them as quickly and smoothly as possible”
The additional devices build on significant ongoing support for children in the social care system and young people leaving care, as part of the government’s commitment to level up outcomes for all.
This includes the Care Leaver Ministerial Board which is improving opportunities for care leavers as they proceed to independence and adulthood, and alongside the ongoing independent review of children’s social care.
As part of the Get Help with Technology Programme, the new investment will help support students with homework and out-of-school learning, alongside the government’s £3 billion education recovery plans, which include an ambitious tutoring programme to help students catch up.
Schools, colleges and councils will be invited during November and December to order their allocation of devices, which will be determined by the proportion of pupils on free school meals and numbers of care leavers in each local authority.
The scheme builds on the successful delivery of laptops to support remote learning and access to essential social care services during the pandemic.
The department is also making £13 million available to schools and colleges that need to buy IT support to set up the devices. The funding also covers the costs of resetting and reconfiguring devices previously received via Get Help With Technology, which will allow schools to make full use of them in the long-term.
To give Afghan children and young adults the best start in this country the government is also providing at least £12 million to prioritise additional school places for children to be enrolled in schools, and to provide school transport, specialist teachers and English language support to assist with learning.
£51 million for councils to support care leavers
24th May 2021: New funding to extend support to care leavers and proposals launched to introduce national standards in unregulated accommodation.
A £51m funding boost to help thousands of vulnerable young people in the care system, and proposals to improve the quality of their accommodation, have today (Monday) been announced by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.
The support package unveiled by the Government will fund a range of schemes to support those that are either in or leaving care, as well as proposals to introduce national standards that accommodation settings for 16- and 17-year-olds would have to meet.
These programmes include:
- £33 million continued investment in ‘Staying Put’, which helps looked after children stay with their foster carers after their 18th birthday if they wish to;
- £3.6 million to extend the ‘Staying Close’ pilot which gives extra support for young people leaving residential care, and £12m for councils to continue to provide Personal Advisors to support care leavers up to the age of 25; and
- £2.7 million to provide intensive support to care leavers at high risk of homelessness, as part of the Government’s Rough Sleeping strategy.
Also launched today is a consultation proposing national standards that all unregulated settings accommodating 16- and 17-year-old children in and leaving care would have to meet, to boost quality and ensure consistency of provision across the country.
It builds on the Government’s confirmation that from September placing children under the age of 16 in unregulated accommodation will become illegal.
The measures come ahead of Ministers across Government convening today for the third meeting of the Care Leaver Covenant Board, to discuss actions to support care leavers in securing and maintaining suitable accommodation. The cross-government Board, with membership from the Departments of Work & Pensions, Health, Housing and Justice, has most recently brought forward exemptions to the Shared Accommodation Rate for care leavers, which means that from June, care leavers up to the age of 25 will receive more financial support to help them access suitable accommodation.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
Every young person in care deserves to live in accommodation that meets their needs and keeps them safe – anything less is unacceptable, and so continuing to prioritise children in care or leaving care is absolutely vital.
The measures being announced today build on our shared ambition across government to level up outcomes and opportunities for everyone, but especially the most vulnerable – by providing safer homes, reducing isolation among young people leaving care, and by making sure they have a strong support network to rely on as they take steps into adult life.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, co-chairing the Covenant Board, said:
The £50m for care leavers that we are announcing today will ensure that vulnerable young people get the necessary support and security that is fundamental to their future. As we level up across the country, this Government will do everything in its power to ensure that no young person is left behind and everyone is given the opportunity to be author of their own life story.
The Department for Education is also set to provide more than 5,000 more laptops for care leavers through the Get Help with Technology scheme, which will help to prevent loneliness and isolation among this group of young people. The laptops and routers will mean they can more easily keep in touch with their Personal Advisers and wider support networks, as well as helping them access support services such as for education, mental health support and searching for employment opportunities online.
The consultation on national standards, which will run for eight weeks until 19 July, will consider the views of children in care, care leavers, councils and experts and leaders in the sector to raise the bar for so-called unregulated provision. These are independent or semi-independent settings offering supported accommodation which are not inspected by Ofsted.
The proposals aim to ensure provision is high quality, providing support and accommodation for older children in or leaving care who are ready to develop their independence in preparation for adult life. The consultation will seek views on how Ofsted should regulate the quality of that support and accommodation for 16 and 17-year-olds and intervene where necessary.
Alongside the ongoing Independent review of children’s social care, announced in January and chaired by Josh MacAlister, today’s additional funding and continued support for care leavers will help to improve outcomes for some of the most vulnerable children and young people in society.
The Care Leaver Covenant Board has been working to improve the opportunities care leavers have access to as they proceed to independence and adulthood since its launch last year.
This includes encouraging businesses to improve targeted employment opportunities and working with councils to reiterate flexibilities around council tax exemptions for those who have left care. The Covenant will also enable businesses and organisations to signpost care leavers towards help to bolster their life skills, and independent living, while they gain work experience through the Kickstart scheme. This cross-government work will continue in the coming months.
The Care Leaver Covenant is working with businesses across the country to improve opportunities and outcomes for care leavers. A diverse group of businesses, including Engie, Compass Group, Lendlease, Remploy, the Local Government Association have signed the Covenant and committed their support to care leavers. Many signatories are also promoting Kickstart opportunities to care leavers, which provides funding to employers to create jobs for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit.