News | 22 Feb 2021

Vodafone and Mail Force team up to offer 150,000 SIMs for homeschooling kids

150,000 extra free SIMs, part of Vodafone UK's schools.connected programme, will help more families grappling with digital poverty.

Vodafone UK has joined forces with the Daily Mail newspaper’s Mail Force Computers for Kids initiative to provide 150,000 free SIMs to children in disadvantaged households struggling to homeschool during the pandemic.

Many schoolchildren from poorer backgrounds have little or no connectivity at home, making online learning difficult.

This latest tranche of free SIMs is an extension of Vodafone UK’s schools.connected programme which has already provided 350,000 SIM cards with free data to families across the UK.

The schools.connected SIMs will be distributed to primary and secondary schools, as well as Further Education colleges, across the UK. Headteachers can request a maximum of 80 SIMs for a secondary school and 50 for a primary school. Priority distribution will be given to educational institutions with high numbers of pupils eligible for free school meals. Schools with lower numbers of such pupils will be capped at 20 to 50 SIMs.

Otherwise, SIM cards are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. Once the schools and colleges receive their SIMs, it will be up to headteachers to distribute them to pupils as they will be best placed to know who is most in need.

This latest batch of free SIMs is being distributed in partnership with the Daily Mail’s charity, Mail Force, whose Computers for Kids initiative will see 12,500 computers going to children in need.

Portable hotspot

Children and their families can use the SIMs to go online by inserting them directly into a smartphone or into a laptop or tablet equipped with a SIM-card slot. Alternatively, the internet connection can be shared with multiple devices by inserting the SIM into a smartphone or tablet and turning on portable hotspot mode.

Each SIM comes with 30GB of data valid for 90 days upon activation. Online lessons from the Oak National Academy have been ‘zero rated’, so they can be accessed without using up the mobile data balance.

In addition to schools.connected, Vodafone UK has also joined the Government’s ‘Get help with technology’ scheme. Participants in the scheme receive increased mobile data allowances from Vodafone UK.

Vodafone UK has also been running the Great British Tech Appeal in partnership with Barnardo’s, encouraging members of the public to donate any unwanted smartphones and tablets. Donated devices are refurbished and equipped with mobile data free for six months, which are then distributed by Barnardo’s to young people in need.

Vodafone UK customers can also access free or discounted online learning courses from providers such as Azoomee and New Skills Academy through the VeryMe rewards programme.

Schools can order their free schools.connected SIM cards now from either Vodafone UK or the Mail Force Computers for Kids initiative.

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