To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that 3,835 schools are in postcodes which do not have access to full-fibre broadband; and what steps they are taking to improve connectivity for schools.
30 November 2021
We want all schools in the country to have access to fast internet. We are committed to continued investment, ensuring that every school has access to modern internet connectivity in the classroom, benefiting thousands more children and teachers.
Most schools in the UK are in urban or suburban areas which already have access to fast full fibre broadband, so this government investment is focused on mostly rural or hard-to-reach areas, to ensure they don’t miss out on next-generation speeds.
Recognising the importance of broadband infrastructure in education, we are working with industry and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to accelerate the full-fibre internet connectivity rollout to all schools in England. Children in more than 1,000 schools are now enjoying next generation internet speeds thanks to government investment, with around a further 2,000 to be connected by 2025. Further information on this rollout can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/200-million-rollout-of-full-fibre-broadband-begins.
The government remains committed to investing £5 billion to bring gigabit coverage to the hardest to reach areas and will continue to work with suppliers to accelerate this investment. This takes into account industry capacity to bid for, and deliver, contracts to build in uncommercial areas alongside their commercial plans. GigaHubs is one of the programmes DCMS is using to deliver the government ambition of gigabit capabilities across the UK by 2030. As part of Project Gigabit, GigaHubs will use up to £110 million to connect public buildings such as rural schools, doctors’ surgeries, and libraries to gigabit broadband. This will help GPs provide remote video consultations and allow whole classes of school children to be online, at once, with no interruptions.
Ensuring good connectivity to the building is just the first step. The actual internet speed experienced is also affected by the technology and Wi-Fi arrangements in place within institutions. We have published a suite of resources to help steer schools, colleges and other providers through the key questions and issues to consider when implementing technology infrastructure, including broadband and local infrastructure issues. To ensure investment made in fast broadband carries through into a high-quality experience in the classroom, we have also set up the ‘connect the classroom’ pilot programme, which is investing up to £30 million to upgrade Wi-Fi for over 1,000 schools.