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1 in 7 UK Parents Claim Poor Home Broadband Hampers Education

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018 (12:01 am) - Score 850
children internet surfing

A new uSwitch.com survey, which was conducted with 1,000 UK parents of children aged 5-18, has claimed that 15% of respondents (allegedly equivalent to around 1.2 million children) think slow home internet connection speeds are “negatively impacting their child’s education.”

On average, parents say their child does 3.9 hours of homework a week with around half of that (1.9 hours) requiring access to the internet. Perhaps unsurprisingly some 69% of parents also claimed that the internet was now “essential” to their child’s education. Admittedly those of us who were brought up in an education system that worked without the internet suffered few problems, although the current digital curriculum is rather different.

Elsewhere 36% reported that their child has experienced “internet problems” when attempting to complete their homework, although the survey doesn’t clarify whether this is related to the broadband connection or a faulty local network / computer. Curiously parents in towns and cities were found to be five times more likely (28%) to blame internet problems for potentially harming their child’s education than those in rural areas (5%).

The above find is interesting because 95%+ of the UK is already estimated to be within reach of a fixed “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) network and a big chunk of that final 4-5% is often said to reflect rural areas. However this could also be an issue with how the survey was conducted and whether or not rural areas were given a proportionally correct representation.

Additional Highlights

* 24% of parents believe their child’s ability to do homework is being impacted by slower connection speeds at peak times (in the evening).

* 7% said their child doesn’t utilise online resources.

* 40% say their child uses YouTube, while 38% noted use of Wikipedia and 32% turn onto BBC Bitesize.

* 61% agreed that Laptop computers are the most common devices used for doing homework, with parents also reporting “educational” use of tablets (54%), mobile phones (37%), games consoles (11%) and smart TVs (11%).

We should point out that as the coverage of fixed line based superfast broadband slowly rises, from 95%+ today to 98% by 2020, then uptake may become part of the challenge. Despite the growing coverage it’s still the case that a little under half of all connections are conducted via slow ADSL lines.

The survey, which should be taken with the usual pinch of salt, doesn’t attempt to define what a good broadband speed would look like for educational purposes. In fairness this might be a bit more challenging than simply picking the Government’s definition of 10Mbps (1Mbps upload) for the future Universal Service Obligation (USO), not least since busy families often put much greater demands on the line (10Mbps could easily be strained). Other factors, such a data usage allowances, might also need to be considered.

In the meantime the coverage of superfast broadband is continuing to grow, albeit at a much slower pace than before (rural areas take longer to tackle), and the Government has also been pumping money into helping local authorities boost their “full fibre” connectivity to public sector sites, including schools (e.g. the Gigabit voucher scheme). Both Wales and Scotland also have similar on-going projects to extend coverage.

Leave a Comment
10 Responses
  1. Avatar Freda

    Why does anyone need super fast broadband to access wiki?

    • Avatar Thomasz

      100% agree

      Youtube is not education. According to latest studies – kids don’t learn from youtube.

  2. Avatar John Miles

    Or perhaps if the broadband is not fast enough to let all the kids stream Netflix, YouTube and Facebook the whole time they might out of boredom and desperation do their homework instead.

  3. Avatar Joe

    “The survey, which should be taken with the usual pinch of salt,”

    Hmm… Enough salt to grit the Arctic perhaps.

    Been a long time since I was at school but what legitimate consequential internet use (beyond the basic minimum OR connection) do most pupils actually need.

  4. Avatar New_Londoner

    I sometimes wonder whether uSwitch market research is a parody account.

    We know that over 95% of homes can receive superfast speeds yet around two thirds of people don’t bother to sign up for them. How many of the 1 in 7 parents are in that category? I suspect it’s a rhetorical question as uSwitch doesn’t usually bother to ask questions unless they lend themselves to a (dodgy) newspaper headline.

    Does its research comply with MRS guidelines?

  5. Avatar Steve Jones

    “Why haven’t you done your homework?”

    “It’s the Internet again”

    “Ok, dear, if you say so”…

  6. Avatar Rahul

    That’s simply ludicrous. When I was at school and I completed my GCSEs in 2005 I did not have good broadband, max speeds were around 1Mbps with Tiscali back then. Even my computer specifications weren’t good enough with 64Mb RAM, Intel Celeron Processor and a CRT Monitor, lol.

    I hardly ever used the internet for revision/study on any of my subjects whether it be Maths, English, Science, etc. I only used the BBC Bitesize website a few times for some of the subjects which to be fair wasn’t good enough (at least not in my days) as there simply wasn’t enough material covered on any of the subjects.

    I bought revision books from Waterstones such as the ones in http://www.cgpbooks.co.uk
    It was the CGP Revision books Intermediate and Advanced revision books of Maths, English, Science and Sociology that helped me get grades B and C.

    Perhaps parents are just using that as an excuse to demand faster broadband. Back in my days students were better. We didn’t have laptops in classes, everything was solely taught based on textbooks. No video game addiction as computers, consoles and even the computer games were primitive, we went outside to play and came back home to study. It was a very different world from the one we have right now.

  7. Define “poor home broadband.”

    I’m stuck with half a Megabit…

  8. Avatar Dave Meadmore

    Many schools now have subscriptions to cloud services which their students access (such as Moodle). I certainly wasn’t impressed with my daughter’s high school’s IT (both technology and implementation). So it really depends what applications they are using and where they are hosted.

    Student expectations may also be high. Many schools now have Full Fibre via organisations such as London Grid For Learning or their equivalent. If the student has excellent connectivity whilst at school then they are bound to complain that they can’t do their homework on basic ASDL when their parents may be watching catch-up, Netflix or BT Sport in the next room.

    These surveys really should follow normal empirical research rules and statistical testing/analysis. Otherwise their results are meaningless. That goes for some ONS figures too unfortunately.

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