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Remote learning: loaning IT equipment to pupils and staff
Here's what you need to think about and do when loaning laptops and tablets to staff and pupils so they can work and learn from home. Download our template loan form to keep track of your equipment, and our template loan agreement for staff and pupils.
As of 4 January 2021, all schools have closed to all pupils except children of critical workers and vulnerable children. You must provide remote education to all pupils learning at home.
The DfE expects schools to:
- Use online and offline resources and 'recorded or live direct teaching time' such as videos
- Overcome barriers to digital access for pupils by distributing school-owned laptops where possible
Stay up to date on the full list of expectations (pages 47 to 50 of Restricting attendance during the national lockdown: schools).
Find out how many devices you have and who needs one
Check your asset register/inventory to find out how many laptops and/or tablets you've got available. (If you don't have many, see our article on alternative methods for providing laptops to get a list of organisations that can help you access devices).
Start with teaching staff
Make sure they've got the equipment they need - if teachers don't have a computer they can use at home, they won't be able to do things like prepare online classes or set remote work.
Get staff to request a device by:
- Sharing a Google sheet with them and asking them add their name to it, or
- If you're a small school, sending round an email asking staff to respond
Decide which pupils to prioritise
After your staff are kitted up, decide which pupils to prioritise:
- Look at how many laptops and/or tablets you have available - if you've got a limited supply, you'll need to decide who gets a device on a case-by-case basis
- Focus on pupils who might not have access to devices at home, like those eligible for the pupil premium
Ask parents to request devices
Create an online request form or a survey using any tool you're comfortable with (e.g. Google Forms or SurveyMonkey).
Put this form or survey on your school website, or send it out in an email to parents. Include a statement on exactly who is eligible to avoid confusion over which pupils have priority.
Cornerstone Academy Trust has a form that covers:
- Pupil's name
- School name (have this if you're in a trust and you're collecting data centrally)
- Year group
- Parent's details - name, mobile number and email address
- Whether the pupil has access to wifi
- Whether the pupil has access to their school account passwords
- Agreement to terms and conditions
Make sure staff and pupils sign a loan agreement
This is so they take responsibility of the device and its proper use.
You may already outline your rules on the proper use of devices in your ICT acceptable use policy. However, you should create a separate agreement for loans so you have a set of terms and conditions that are quick and easy to read.
Staff and pupils should sign the loan agreement before they receive the device - so if you're sending devices home, make sure they've signed an electronic version of the loan agreement before you dispatch the items. (Scroll down to the last section for advice on distributing devices safely.)
Download and adapt our template loan agreement for staff and pupils
It's been approved by Forbes Solicitors and covers:
- Unacceptable use
- Personal use
- Data protection
- Returning items
See example loan agreements from schools
- Blue Gate Fields Junior School, a primary maintained school in Tower Hamlets, has an ICT acceptable use agreement form (see its staff ICT security policy)
- Kind Edward VI Handsworth School, a secondary academy in Birmingham, has a staff laptop loan agreement
- Hindley High School, a secondary maintained school in Wigan, has a loan agreement for staff in its computer usage policy
- Rooks Heath College, a secondary academy in Harrow, has a pupil laptop agreement form (see Appendix B of its ICT policy)
- The Crypt School, a secondary academy in Gloucestershire, has an iPad loan agreement for pupils
- Cornerstone Academy Trust has an agreement for loaning devices to pupil
Lost, stolen or damaged equipment
Your school might charge parents and staff a fee for lost, stolen or damaged devices. However, be mindful that some parents (e.g. of pupils eligible for the pupil premium) might not be able to pay this fee.
If you don't already have insurance covering the damage, loss or theft of the equipment outside your school grounds, consider using your pupil premium funding to do this.
Or, use the funding to pay for replacements on a case-by-case basis.
Remember to outline the precautions pupils need to take to protect their device, to minimise things getting lost.
How to distribute the equipment
If staff/parents can collect the devices:
- Appoint a staff member to administer the equipment
- Specify a time and location where staff or parents can collect things
- Make soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitiser available to them when they arrive
If lots of people will be picking up devices:
- Stagger pick-up times so they're not all coming in at once
- If there’ll be a queue, set out 2-metre markers on the ground for them to stand on - use tape or cones
- Use courier delivery if you can, so staff and parents can avoid unnecessary contact
If your school is closed, use a courier to deliver the equipment
Record details of the loaned items: download our template
Keep an equipment loan register. The staff responsible for administering the equipment should log the relevant information.
Download our template record form for staff and pupils to keep on top of what equipment you've loaned out.
Update your asset register with the name of the person responsible for the equipment.
Martin Owen is a qualified Chartered Accountant (CPFA). He has more than 20 years of significant experience working with academies and schools to improve their governance, leadership and management of financial, business and operational processes.
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