Waive education data charges in lockdown, says IT body

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, has called for data charges on education websites to be waived during lockdown.

The organisation said that educational websites, like Purple Mash and Classcharts, should be exempt from mobile data charges to help the poorest families.

Broadband data caps have been removed following negotiation by the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) and major providers, but many families’ internet connections still come via capped mobile services.

“Many low-income families rely on mobile data for internet access, and the average data allowance is much lower,” said Adam Leon Smith, chair of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT’s software testing group. “With schools being closed for the foreseeable future, the DCMS should negotiate a ‘zero-rating’ for educational websites with mobile data providers.”

He added: “This would be similar to the zero-rating already applied to some subscription-only services, like Skype and Twitter, by some mobile providers.”

Smith said that schools would need to confirm details of the sites they need, but these can be agreed and refined over time.

“We know the digital divide is a modern measure of inequality - so to support technical solutions it is vital that the quality of guided online learning is levelled up between state and private schools – with teachers given the training and support they need to deliver this well,” he explained. “While the commercial sector has turned to digital technology wholeheartedly to enable remote working with considerable success, our schools have struggled through lack of digital skills and access to the right technology and support to do the same for all children in all parts of the UK.”

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