£82m investment to upgrade rural primary schools’ broadband

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primary school's broadband

Up to 3,000 schools and surrounding areas across rural England will receive funding in a joint investment from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Department for Education (DfE), aimed at improving primary schools’ broadband

A joint £82m investment designed to improve primary schools’ broadband from the DCMS and DfE announced today will mean pupils in classrooms from Cornwall to Cumbria will reap the benefits of full-fibre broadband capable of delivering up to 1,000 megabits per second.

Funding for up to 2,000 schools will be from the DCMS GigaHubs programme, which is part of Project Gigabit, the government’s £5b programme to deliver lightning-fast, reliable broadband in hard-to-reach areas of the UK.

The scheme is set to connect up to 7,000 rural public sector buildings including schools, GP surgeries, libraries and other public buildings.

The new infrastructure will bring gigabit-capable connections (1,000 megabits per second) to the heart of communities, incentivising more investment in hard-to-reach areas and providing ‘hubs’ from which the commercial sector can connect surrounding homes and businesses.

An additional 1,000 schools will be funded by DfE as part of their mission to enable every school in England to access high-speed internet by 2025.

‘Connect the Classroom’ project aims to continue investment in schools in priority areas

To ensure teachers and schools can make the most of these connections in the classroom, DfE is also investing £30m in the pilot project ‘Connect the Classroom’, which aims to upgrade technology in thousands more schools in priority areas, meaning pupils will benefit from fast Wi-Fi and cloud services and will be able to link up with peers, experts and specialists in countries from around the world via live video calling.

This means an estimated 500,000 primary school pupils will be able to use the internet with no interruptions, even if multiple classes are using it at the same time.

Over the next three years, up to 3,000 eligible schools will be able to embrace efficiencies through modern ways of working – generating cost savings and reducing workload for frontline professionals. The programme will cover the costs of connecting rural areas stuck on outdated copper cables and not likely to be connected by commercial rollout, enhancing primary schools’ broadband.

“Our pupils now feel more connected to each other, their teachers and our community than ever before”

Digital secretary Nadine Dorries said:

Today we’re announcing millions of pounds to get lightning-fast broadband connections to rural schools and level up children’s access to the best possible teaching.”

Schools minister Robin Walker said:

“High speed, reliable internet is crucial to helping schools provide the best possible experience for pupils. This investment will open a whole world of possibilities for schools and teachers in hard-to-reach areas, whether that is through more access to online resources for children, or fast, top quality video streaming.”

Russell David, head of School at Whitley Village School in Cheshire, which has already been connected to gigabit broadband through Project Gigabit, said:

“Our pupils now feel more connected to each other, their teachers and our community than ever before.”

“Fast, reliable connectivity is vital in today’s classrooms and gigabit broadband, along with the fantastic new WiFi provided through the Connect the Classroom programme, has allowed us to transform how we teach using the latest educational tech, giving pupils and staff access to a huge library of new tools and resources to thrive and engage with the curriculum.”

“Our remote location is no longer a constraint to our participation with the rest of the Rowan Learning Trust in our exciting journey.”

The government is investing in ‘Connect the Classroom’ in its Priority Education Investment Areas, 24 areas of the country where education outcomes are weakest and support is being targeted.

The delivery of new gigabit connectivity also underpins the government’s net zero ambitions – helping schools to move away from inefficient locally-hosted servers and embrace more efficient and secure cloud data storage, services and devices.

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