.

County Council had to wait two months for laptops to help disadvantaged children during lockdown

Derbyshire waited two months to receive laptops and internet access from the government to ensure the county’s most vulnerable pupils can keep up with schoolwork from home.

The Department for Education announced on April 19 that councils would be given laptops and tablets for “disadvantaged families, children and young adults who do not currently have access to them through another source, such as their school”.

Derbyshire County Council received its 2,558 laptops 59 days later on June 17 with a negligible amount of the formal school year remaining and talk of catch-up programmes throughout the summer holidays.

It received 450 4G dongles, providing internet access, on June 10.

The county council said it had ordered its full allocated amount of devices and that the laptop delivery date had only slipped by two days.

Derby City Council had to wait 40 days for its full allocation of 1,255 devices and is about to order a further 72 for “disadvantaged” Year 10 students.

It received its laptops on May 29.

Cllr Jim Coyle, Labour’s shadow education spokesperson on the county council, said: “I find it quite remarkable that they could take so long to arrive. I could have one delivered online in the morning.

“Derbyshire children have, once again, been let down and disadvantaged by this Tory administration and despite the massive efforts of our teachers, our students will be paying the price for this Tory calamity for months and years to come.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We know being in school is vital for children’s education and wellbeing, which is why we are working towards all children returning to the classroom from September.

“The government has been clear in its commitment no child should fall behind as a result of coronavirus, which is why we have provided over £100 million to support children to learn at home, including providing devices for eligible children that need them.

“We have also launched a £1 billion Covid catch up fund to directly tackle the impact of lost teaching time as a result of the pandemic, which headteachers and school leaders have the flexibility to decide how to spend in the best interests of their students.”

DfE said it is prioritising the delivery of devices to the most vulnerable children first.

This includes children with a social worker and care leavers – who need access to online social services.

It says this will be followed by providing laptops and tablets for disadvantaged Year 10 children who do not have access to a device through other means.

More from Local

Cover art for Black Eyed Boy

On Air

Alex Lester playing Texas - Black Eyed Boy