It was the right decision for schools to move to remote learning to ensure that communities are protected from the increasing spread of coronavirus. However, not all home learning environments are equal and many pupils from families on low incomes may struggle to access appropriate digital devices or reliable internet.

Here are some practical steps your school can take to support children and young people in your communities gain better access to the devices and Wi-Fi they need to support their learning:

  • Many mobile phone companies are offering additional data free of charge to disadvantaged children who are learning from home. Mobile companies are offering extra data for disadvantaged children who are unable to come into school. Not all networks are covered, but the Government is encouraging more to join the scheme.
  • The Government is continuing its scheme to provide additional devices and wireless routers to children without a computer or internet access. Digital resources can be ordered in the same way they were during the summer term.
  • If pupils have access to an Xbox or PlayStation they may be able to access Office 365 from their console, which could mean they can access their school emails and programmes such as Word. This step-by-step guide shows how to set up Google Classroom on a console, and you can find out how to access Office 365 from a console here [see below]. Note that accessing Office 365 in this way will enable pupils to check their school email and access programmes such as Microsoft Word, but they won’t be able to access apps. 
  • Over the spring and summer terms, many members found using NEU Create Boxes an excellent means by which to engage pupils with offline learning by providing creative resources and materials to help them engage away from screens
  • Since 11 January the BBC has been showing education programmes on Freeview channels to support children who are learning from home. The CBBC channel is scheduling three hours of educational programmes targeted at primary age children every day, while BBC2 is showing at least two hours of educational programmes for young people in secondary education daily.

As educators, we know that not all remote learning needs to take place online. Our members’ experiences over the summer lockdown show there are many creative ways to engage learners with offline learning while they are working from home. Click here to read our latest advice on remote learning.

While schools and education professionals are working tirelessly to provide the best learning experience for children and young people during the national lockdown, it is the responsibility of Government to ensure that every child is able to access remote learning so they can learn from home safely. That’s why the NEU is calling for urgent action to expand digital access for pupils from low income and disadvantaged backgrounds, so no child is left behind.

Join the No Child Left Behind campaign now to add your voice to our call. Every child must have the right tools to learn from home. Find out more about the No Child Left Behind campaign.

Using Xbox or PlayStation to access Office 365

Accessing your remote learning. An alternative method of accessing remote learning during times of lockdown.


1. Plug a keyboard in to the Xbox USB slot (less than £10 from Amazon).

2. Go in to my games and apps.

3. Find Microsoft Edge and select.

4. Type in Office 365 and log in as you would in school.

5. You can then access your work and use key packages including:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Teams
  • Your emails

6. To move around you use the Xbox controller or plug in a mouse.


1. Identify the PlayStation internet browser icon (it is www with dots around it).

2. Press the PlayStation logo on the controller.

3. Go to the library and find options for games and applications.

4. Go in to applications and you will find the internet browser.

5. Type in Office 365 and log in as you would in school.

6. You can then access your work and use key packages including:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Teams
  • Your emails