BT is ‘zero rating’ BBC Bitesize, meaning parents and children will not be charged to access educational content on the platform.
A third national lockdown means most primary and secondary school pupils will be required to stay at home for the next six weeks and will be reliant on digital learning tools for that period.
However, there are concerns that some students lack the devices and connectivity requires to access these resources. Some disadvantaged households do not have a dedicated broadband connection or laptop and access the Internet via pay-as-you-go mobile phones.
Digital learning access
Mobile operators had come under pressure to provide ‘zero rate’ educational services as part of wider packages to increase accessibility.
BT, EE, and Plusnet Mobile customers will not be charged when using the BBC Bitesize website or mobile application or when watching educational content on BBC iPlayer. No registration is necessary, but the changes won’t come into effect until the end of the month to allow for testing.
BT says other educational portals could be added to the scheme in the future as it continues its ‘Lockdown Learning’ support scheme. It is a participant in a government programme to provide unlimited mobile data to disadvantaged households, while it also offers free Wi-Fi vouchers a basic £10 a month fixed broadband package to eligible families.
“We want to ensure that no child is left behind in their education as a result of this pandemic, and recognise that we all have a role we can play to help families and carers continue their children’s education while schools are closed,” said BT Consumer CEO Marc Allera.
“That’s why, as part of our ‘Lockdown Learning’ support scheme launched last week, we’re proud to partner with the BBC and be the first network to zero rate BBC Bitesize and allow all of our mobile customers to access its incredible content without using up any data.”
Three is also a participant in the Department for Education’s ‘Get Help with Technology’ programme, while Vodafone also plans to get involved. Until then, it is offering free data SIMs to the most in need.
Earlier this year a cross-party group of MPs, former politicians such as Tony Blair, and education experts had called for the government to provide broadband connections and devices to the 1.3 million children eligible for free school meals.