Clarification – DfE Connect the Classroom – fully funded
Wi-Fi and networking upgrades

There seems to be a lot of confusion around eligibility for the above scheme, currently being rolled out by the DfE. A number of national School IT suppliers are cold-calling and emailing schools, giving them the impression that they are eligible for substantial funding to improve and upgrade their network infrastructure. For clarification, I’d like to outline the eligibility criteria and timescales. Please read this message in full to avoid any further confusion!

The scheme was launched by the DfE following the huge influx of mobile devices experienced during the pandemic. Many schools found themselves awash with new devices that their existing wireless networks were struggling to cope with.

Initial pilot projects were run in a number of political constituencies (including Mansfield and Ashfield), before the scheme was launched to provide funding to areas identified as Education Investment Areas. The current scope of that is as follows:

  • All schools will receive funding within Priority Education Investment Areas including Derby City LA and Nottingham City LA (full list of PEIAs below)
  • Schools in Education Investment Areas that have an Ofsted rating of Requires Improvement or worse will also receive funding. This includes Nottinghamshire LA, Derbyshire LA and Lincolnshire LA (full list of EIAs below)
  • No school should assume eligibility until they are contacted by the DfE directly. 

The scheme has been set out in 6 “waves”. The initial 3 waves formed the bulk of the pilot scheme and must be completed by March 2023. If you think your school may have been contacted by the DfE but did not respond you must move on this immediately or lose the funding.

Wave 4 is set to run in DfE FY 2023/24, but some schools have been pulled forward into 2022/23 (NB – if work is not completed by March 2023 these schools will have their funding rolled over).

Waves 5 and 6 are running in the following two DfE financial years (24/25 and 25/26).

Although the scheme is running to the DfE fiscal calendar and uses Local Authority areas as boundaries it does include the MAT schools within those boundaries. LA maintained schools must pay for the work and claim it back from the LA. MAT schools will have their funding issued to the MAT directly.

Only the DfE know which schools fall within each “wave”, and they will contact schools directly. Please be aware that some of this communication may come from the following email address, which may be identified as spam:

Education Investment Areas

Bedford, Blackpool, Bolton, Bradford, Bury, Cambridgeshire, Central Bedfordshire, Cornwall, County Durham, Coventry, Darlington, Derby, Derbyshire, Doncaster, Dorset, Dudley, East Sussex, Halton, Hartlepool, Isle of Wight, Kirklees, Knowsley, Leeds, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Norfolk, North Northamptonshire, North Somerset, North Yorkshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oldham, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Rochdale, Rotherham, Salford, Sandwell, Sefton, Somerset, South Gloucestershire, South Tyneside, St. Helens, Stoke-on-Trent, Suffolk, Sunderland, Swindon, Tameside, Wakefield, Walsall, Wirral

Priority Education Investment Areas

Blackpool, Bradford, Derby, Doncaster, Fenlands and East Cambridgeshire, Halton, Hartlepool, Hastings, Ipswich, Knowsley, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire Coast, Norwich, Nottingham, Oldham, Portsmouth, Rochdale, Salford, Sandwell, Stoke-on-Trent, Tameside, Walsall, West Somerset

I hope this clarifies the situation, but please feel free to email me directly with any questions you might have. 

Best wishes,

Gary Hardy

Head of Sales and Marketing

Atom IT Solutions LTD

First Floor Office, Unit 1 Coverdale Point, Lower Oakham Way, Mansfield, NG18 5BY. M: 07412 679768 E: