Please find below details of different mechanisms that can be used to obtain mobile devices for your school.
DfE Funded Devices
Throughout the pandemic, the DfE have run a number of programmes to get devices out to pupils.
Phase 1 of this project provided Local Authorities with devices that were to be allocated to vulnerable children in specific categories - This phases is now complete. All devices allocated to Brighton & Hove City Council and East Sussex and Surrey County Councils have now been allocated. In this phase, the devices remain the property of the Local Authority.
Phase 2 of the project made devices available to schools if they had to close/partially close due to a localised outbreak of the virus. This has now been superceeded with Phase 3. Devices in this phase are the property of the allocated school.
Phase 3 is effectively the same as phase 2, but on a wider scale due to the national lockdown. The DfE and their partners are looking to allocate more than 1 million devices between now and Spring 2021.
For more details around accessing these devices, please visit the DfE "Get Help With Technology" programme website - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-laptops-and-tablets-for-children-who-cannot-attend-school-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19#more-laptops-and-tablets-will-be-available-in-2021
Devices Available to Purchase (Immediate Dispatch):
Schools ICT maintain a number of relationships with key hardware suppliers and manufacturers.
Due to the increase in working from home across all sectors, stock of Laptops and Tablets is very low, with stock being taken as soon as it reaches distribution.
For our Fully Managed and Collaborative customers, we have compiled a list of devices below that at the time of writing are in stock for immediate dispatch. For full details please see our hardware catalogue or give us a call.
1. We strongly advise all devices have a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) including any cables/chargers before sending home.
Please note that not all devices offered will be suitable for deployment.
As the device(s) would've have been donated, it would be advisable to also donate them to a suitable family, rather than agreeing any form of loan agreement. A factory reset would perform a complete clean and restore of the operating system allowing for an OOBE (Out-of-Box Experience) enabling the pupil/parent/carer to switch on the device and following onscreen guidance to connect to the WiFi and setup a username and password to login with from home.
All devices come with a web browser, which would allow the pupil access web based content such as Purple Mash, SeeSaw and Office 365/Google Cloud Learning Platforms as per your school's provision.
This would effectively mean that these devices would be a home device, much like what you would buy online or in a shop for home use. This means they may come with built in antivirus and firewall as standard but will not have any form of web filtering.
If you are a fully managed customer (Premier or Fixed Visits) and wish to discuss this further, or require assistance please contact our Service Desk for more information via the details on the Support page.
Re-Purposing/Improving old equipment
Cloudready by Neverware (part of Google)
Over time, even the best hardware slows down, but that doesn’t mean your devices should sit unused. CloudReady is certified on 200+ of the most common PC and Mac models used in education over the last decade, and its lightweight, browser-based design installs in minutes. This translates to faster boot times, more instructional time, and more reliable, secure devices.
Neverware offers both a free and paid-for version of the platform
Home (Free) - The home version of the operating system offers the benefits around improving device performance and better integration with Google Workspace (G Suite), without the ability for the centralised management. If your school have devices that you are permenantly donating to families, you could look to use the Home platform. Equally, if you are a parent reading this and have a spare device knocking around, you can give Cloudready a go.
Education (Paid-for) - This version of the operating system allows you to centrally manage all of your Cloudready devices through the my neverware portal and can be enrolled into G suite, to be securely managed in a similar way to your Chromebooks. Cloudready turns your old windows devices into devices that are almost the same as Chromebooks (you just can't install Play Store apps).
For Schools looking to use Cloudready, please get in touch with us.
Schools ICT are unable to directly support parents who are looking to use Cloudready, there is however a bank of great documentation and forum support on the Neverware website - https://www.neverware.com/
Using Games Consoles to access the Internet
XBOX and Playstation consoles have an inbuilt web browser that could be used to access Office 365 and G Suite to access work assigned by the school. To make the consoles easier to "work from" you can plug in a USB Keyboard and Mouse. Full details available on the TES article here - https://www.tes.com/news/how-use-xbox-or-playstation-online-learning
Device Short-Term Rental
Device Leasing and 1:1 Schemes
If you require a batch of devices now, but do not have the funds to purchase all devices outright, you could consider leasing the devices.
In the right circumstances, leasing can be a good financal management mechanism. It is worth pointing out that schools generally can only take advantage of "Operating Leases" and not older style "Finance Leases". Operational leases are most commonly used in schools when obtaining photocopiers, but not many people realise you can use the same mechanism to obtain other devices.
Generally you would "rent" the device for a fixed period (typically 3, 4 or 5 years) and at the end of that period hand back the device at no cost (so long as there is no damage) or pay the "baloon payment" to keep the device. With a lease you would pay more for the device overall when comparing to upfront purchase, so this has to be weighed up with the need to get your school up and running with the technology now.
You can either look to pay the quarterly rental repayments from the school budget, or you could seek to recover all or some of this cost from parental contribution via a 1:1 scheme.
Leases are tailored to every school and their requirements, if you would like to investigate this and are a fully managed customer, please talk to us.