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BESA Reports Poor Broadband and WiFi Provision Hurting UK Schools

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 (5:09 pm) - Score 953
children internet surfing

The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) has told the Government to do more to improve Internet connectivity in Schools across the United Kingdom, after their annual survey of ICT capabilities found that poor WiFi provision was a “major problem” in 65% of primary and 54% of secondary schools. Meanwhile 42% of primary and 31% of secondary schools also considered themselves to be “under-resourced” in broadband provision.

On the upside BESA’s study, which is reportedly based on feedback from a survey of ICT co-ordinators at 727 primary and 498 secondary schools, found that the number of computers in use in UK schools is expected to increase by 50,000 units in primary schools and 92,000 units in secondary schools. In particular the increasing adoption of tablet computers, with their lower cost per device, is making computers more accessible to children.

Caroline Wright, BESA’s Director, said:

In today’s digital society, classroom connectivity to an online world of knowledge and resources should be a right for every student in their place of learning and not a lottery.

BESA urges the Government to consider the findings of today’s report and take speedy action to ensure that every child has the opportunity to benefit from an education that harnesses the power of educational technology and equips them with the digital skills they need to achieve success in our 21st century knowledge economy.”

Admittedly the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme already aims to make superfast broadband (24Mbps+) speeds available to 95% of the population by 2017, although it’s worth remembering that while a minimum of 25Mbps might be good enough for many of today’s family homes, it’s often nowhere near enough to serve even a smaller school or business.

The alternative, which often involves building out a leased line connection (this can be especially troublesome in rural areas), is usually far too expensive for many smaller schools where a minimum of 100Mbps might arguably be more appropriate for their needs.

But for now it’s worth remembering that BDUK still has several years to run and so improvements are coming, while 24Mbps+ is the minimum and often faster speeds are still achievable. However some schools will clearly require even more performance going forward and sooner than the rest of us.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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9 Responses
  1. “While a minimum of 25Mbps might be good enough for many of today’s family homes, it’s often nowhere near enough to serve even a smaller school or business.”
    A couple of schools I’ve done work for (as part of a sortta work experience for enjoyment more than anything), with in excess of 400 students, in two parts of the country, only had 8mbps consumer ADSL connections. By and large, it actually worked absolutely fine. However, come break time when everyone jumped on the school computers, and the throughput on the clients dropped to below about 30kbps. Needless to say, the schools did not have a policy on games, as they would never load anyway! This was also prior to school Wifi, so I’d hate to imagine the situation nowadays.

    On a more positive note, some of the projects I’ve witnessed recently have pipes of around 1gbps, leading to a blazingly fast experience combined with gigabit cabling and well engineered wifi!

    • Avatar fastman2

      Schools covered by Local Authority shoudl be on Corporate networks and not broadband — however private schools will not be on these networks and therefore coudl have broadband challenges

    • Avatar DanielM

      25Mb is hardly enough.

      in my case 160Mb seems about okay. its the upload thats the important one.

  2. @fastman-this was before LA networks existed, I believe. Thinking about it, I think at least one of them did move to a leased line network, albeit a 10mbps one.

  3. Avatar FibreFred

    What? Schools shouldn’t be relying on BDUK, I see Schools as a business they should be using Ethernet access.

    What next hospitals and surgeries complaining of poor access? This isn’t a problem of coverage its a problem of money, get the government to stump up what is needed its a resource like any other, staff, books, etc etc

  4. Avatar TheFacts

    ‘Poor wireless (Wi-Fi) provision was cited as a major problem in many schools with 65 per cent of primary schools and 54 per cent of secondary schools considering themselves under-resourced in Wi-Fi connectivity.’

    Not a problem in Tesco stores…

    Remember that BESA, the British Educational Suppliers Association, is the trade association representing over 300 educational suppliers in the UK, including manufacturers and distributors of equipment, materials, books, consumables, furniture, technology, ICT hardware and digital-content related services to the education market.

    • “Not a problem in Tesco stores…”

      That’s it then. Take the kids out of school and put them to work in Tescos stacking shelves or on the tills. Afterall, Tesco does have a bit of a cash problem at the moment, so could well find the cheap child labour very useful. 🙂

    • Avatar No Clue

      The school can then take the kids £2.73 per hour minimum wage (yes that is how low it is on an apprenticeship) and fund BT to bring the schools fibre…. Sorry i mean copper boltons with a guarantee of 2Mb.

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