The ongoing Coronavirus situation has impacted all our lives in varying ways, and young people have had to deal with significant disruption to their schooling.
Mobile phone providers have launched a number of helpful initiatives over the last few months to help out, such as free data for NHS workers, digital support for vulnerable customers and more.
Now, the UK government, the Department of Education and UK networks like O2, Three, EE and Vodafone are seeking to make sure that kids who may not have full access to the internet and online resources are given everything they need so they can continue their education at home.
This new scheme offers disadvantaged children temporary increases on their mobile phone data allowances on some networks. The scheme has been set up to help with remote education since schools are currently closed, meaning face-to-face lessons are not allowed under lockdown laws.
Who can apply for the scheme?
Children can benefit from the data increase scheme if they are in households that:
- Don’t have home broadband
- Can’t afford extra data
- Have had a disruption to their in-school education
Currently, the following networks have joined the scheme:
- Virgin Mobile
- Tesco Mobile
- Sky Mobile
The networks haven’t all detailed how much data will be distributed, but EE/BT has pledged 20GB per month, Vodafone has offered 30GB SIMs valid for 90 days and Three has gone a step further and offered unlimited data while the scheme is in place.
How can kids get the data increase?
According to the government’s information page, the data increases must be requested by schools, trusts and local authorities. Any child is eligible for the data increase providing their education has been disrupted by restrictions, or if they are clinically extremely vulnerable.
When applying for a child, the school, trust or local authority must collect the pupil’s mobile phone number, the network the phone is on and the name of the account holder (this could be a parent).
This info is then submitted into the government’s online system. When the request is processed and approved, the network will send a text message to the customer informing them the data increase has been approved.
This move could prove to be very helpful for families who are concerned about their children’s schooling during lockdown.
Catherine Hiley, mobiles expert here at Uswitch, said: “As families across the UK brace themselves for a third national lockdown, and the constant challenge of juggling work and homeschooling, any extra support is welcome. It is particularly reassuring to see broadband and mobile networks doing their bit to help disadvantaged families, whose children are the most at risk of falling behind.”
“Many of these support packages need to be accessed through your child’s school, so it’s always worth having a conversation with their teachers if you feel you may qualify for the extra help.”
“If you do find yourself having to contact your provider for whatever reason during the coming weeks, Uswitch provides a useful guide on how you can reach your provider during lockdown.”
Contact your child’s school, trust or local authority to make sure they receive the allowance.