130,000 laptops requested through Home Access Scheme

By Nicola Brittain
09 Feb 2010 View Comments
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Children at computers
130,000 laptops applied for

More than 130,000 families have applied for free laptops and broadband internet access for their kids within weeks of the launch of the government scheme designed to help close the digital divide.

So far 132,000 application forms have been received, 15,000 returned and 5,000 approved under the £300m Home Access Programme launched by prime minister Gordon Brown and schools secretary Ed Balls a month ago.

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Balls said there had been "a fantastic response by families to the ground-breaking offer we've made".

He said that computers are as essential as books, pens and paper to help children learn.

Under the scheme each qualifying family gets a Barclaycard that can be used for a one-off transaction worth £528 to buy the equipment at an approved supplier.

Some 270,000 laptops are expected to be handed out on a first-come-first-served basis.

Qualifying families are those with children in school years 3 to 9 who are eligible for free school meals and meet other criteria. Children under 18 in the care of local authorities also qualify.

Proponents claim having a computer at home can improve GCSE results by two grades.

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