Loaning devices to children and young people
Guidance for local authorities, trusts, schools, colleges and FE institutions about who owns DfE loaned devices, asset management and loan agreements.
Applies to England
Ownership of laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers was transferred from DfE to the local authorities, academy trusts, schools, colleges and further education (FE) institutions that received them.
Device owners are able to choose how and when to temporarily lend, or permanently give, devices to children and young people in need, or to other organisations. Before parting with your devices, you’ll want to consider carefully the balance of the individual’s need against your school’s or service’s future need for face-to-face learning, remote learning support and online social care.
DfE expects organisations to decide how best to make devices available to disadvantaged children and young people so they can access remote education, face-to-face learning and online social care when needed.
Options for lending or giving devices to children, young people and other organisations
You must consider safeguarding when making your decision about lending.
Guidance on safe internet use should be provided at the same time as devices are lent or given.
Option 1: Lending devices to children and young people
You should consider retaining ownership and management of the devices when you lend them to children, families and young people.
The benefits of lending are:
- safeguarding device settings, such as content filtering and mobile device management (MDM), can be maintained
- children and young people can access IT support from the device owner if needed
- devices can be redistributed to other children and young people as needs change
Option 2: Permanently giving devices to other organisations
You can choose to give devices to other organisations. The new owner will then decide how to distribute them to children and young people in need.
Local authorities that have been allocated devices for state-funded pupils in independent special schools and alternative provision can give devices to those settings. You should make sure that DfE devices will only be distributed to state-funded pupils as a condition of your agreement to transfer ownership to them.
Option 3: Permanently giving devices to children and young people
You can choose to give devices to children, young people and families, where you’ve deemed it appropriate. This may include giving devices to care leavers. Giving devices permanently to children and young people should only be considered after assessing the benefits of the 2 options listed above.
Before making this decision, you should consider:
- future needs of your setting or service for face-to-face and remote education (such as for disadvantaged children and young people joining the setting or service)
- safeguarding – relevant parties (such as social workers, schools or carers) should be involved in making this decision
- online safety, when device settings expire – for example, DfE does not recommend gifting DfE Restricted Windows devices before replacing their temporary safeguarding and management settings
- how IT support will be provided – you should let the recipient know how to get help if their device develops a fault
What to do if circumstances change for children and young people
If a child or young person no longer meets the eligibility criteria to have a device
A child or young person may no longer meet the criteria under which a device was provided, for example, they may no longer receive support from a social worker.
If this happens, you should assess the needs of the child or young person, including safeguarding. You can then decide whether to let them continue using the device, or ask them to return it.
If a device has been permanently given to a child or young person, it’s their property.
If a child or young person moves to another educational setting
Children and young people may be given devices by one educational setting, then move to another. Device ownership transferral will need to be decided between them.
The original device owner should uninstall any software they’ve added, unless licences are being transferred too. They should let the new educational setting know what changes have been made, so that it can be set up and secured appropriately again.
If a care leaver or child with a social worker moves to another area
If an local authority has given a child or young person a device and that person moves area, the local authority can:
- discuss transferring ownership of the device with the new local authority, a relevant educational setting, or with the child or care leaver (if it’s safe and appropriate to do so)
- ask the child or young person to return the device so it can be redistributed within the local authority
Deciding how to distribute devices
You can decide how best to meet the needs of vulnerable children and young people.
If you have any concerns about lending or giving a device to a child or young person for safeguarding reasons, you must use your judgement. For example, you may decide that the device should:
- not be given to that child or young person because other forms of contact are more appropriate
- only be used in supervised contexts (with a social worker, or support of an educational setting)
- be managed by an educational setting
- be used for other children or young people who would benefit from it, outside of eligible groups
Labelling or tagging devices
Laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers are not tagged or labelled when they’re delivered. Schools, colleges, further education institutions, local authorities and trusts are responsible for implementing their own security and tracking methods.
You may invalidate the warranty on your device if you use any permanent method of labelling or tagging.
Lost, stolen or sold devices
You should make clear to recipients of devices that it’s unlawful for any lent device to be sold by a student or their family. If a lent device is lost, stolen or sold, or where recall is not possible, you should follow any existing protocol you have for lost, stolen or missing devices.
Last updated 23 June 2022 + show all updates
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