STRUGGLING families can get free BT WiFi vouchers so kids can learn at home during the coronavirus crisis.
The support comes as schools have been shut until the February half-term due to the third national lockdown in England.
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Struggling families can get free BT WiFi vouchers so kids can learn at home during the pandemicCredit: Getty Images – Getty
To help children from low-income families, who may not have WiFi for homeschooling, BT is offering vouchers to ensure the kids don’t fall behind.
The free vouchers give access to the 5million BT WiFi hotspots across the UK until the end of the academic year in July 2021.
Buying on demand access vouchers to BT’s WiFi usually costs £39 a month, or if you sign up for three months, you only have to pay £30 a month.
How to make the most of your Wi-Fi
IF you’re not eligible for the free vouchers and you have WiFi at home, comparison site uSwitch has shared five quick tips to make the most of it.
- Reboot your router – the classic “unplug it, leave it 30 seconds and plug it back in”.
- Location, location, location – if your router is located further away than it needs to be, try moving it to the room you’re most active in or the center of your home.
- Disconnect unnecessary devices – turn the Wi-Fi off on gadgets you’re not using, even if they’re in a drawer. They may be using bandwidth in the background.
- Run a speed test – this will determine whether your router is running at the speeds you signed up for.
- Purchase a Wi-Fi extender or “booster” – this will optimise your broadband for faster and stronger connections.
The vouchers have previously been distributed through the Department for Education, but BT is now offering these directly to schools and families – we explain how to claim below.
If you’re already a BT customer, the telecoms giant is now also offering unlimited data to hard-up families, up from 20GB previously.
It comes as other providers including Three, Vodafone and O2 have rolled out similar support measures too – check out our guide on how to claim.
BT has also zero rated popular educational sites designed to support home learning, including BBC Bitesize, while schools remain closed.
It means all contract and pay as you customers of BT Mobile, EE and Plusnet Mobile can automatically access the site even if they have run out of data.
How to claim the free BT WiFi vouchers
Struggling families who aren’t mobile phone customers with BT can get free WiFi vouchers to help their kids study from home.
It’s up to schools and BT’s charity partners to request the vouchers for you though, which they can do on the BT website.
If you think you qualify for the vouchers and you haven’t heard anything, it could be worth speaking to your child’s teacher and ask for help.
BT told The Sun it’s made an unlimited number of free WiFi voucher codes available for pupils aged 16 and under who don’t currently have adequate access to internet connectivity at home.
The vouchers are allocated to schools in proportion to the number of kids at a school eligible for free school meals.
BT’s hotspot network is said to reach around 20% of all UK addressesCredit: BT
Once a school has had an application accepted, BT will send out the codes by email to be handed out.
Each child will get a unique username and password, allowing them to log in to the hotspot network.
The support is available to schools in England, Wales and Scotland, but not independent schools or any schools in Northern Ireland.
Just keep in mind that the network doesn’t reach every address, so it won’t be a suitable solution for all pupils.
BT expects the 5million hotspots to reach roughly 20% of UK addresses.
To avoid disappointment, schools should check that coverage is available at each pupil’s home address before applying using BT’s online checker.
Simply enter the postcode for a heatmap to appear, with areas in red representing the best chance of connection.
Where there is no colour shown, it means no hotspot coverage.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is said to have rejected BT’s free voucher offer because it was too difficult to hand them out “effectively”.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of vulnerable kids have been given free laptops to help them study from home during the coronavirus crisis.
School children from low-income families will also continue to get free meals during the third lockdown in England.