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London Grid for Learning Goes National with Broadband Boost

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 1,247

The London Grid for Learning (LGfL), which until now has worked alongside Virgin Media Business to supply ultrafast broadband connectivity to around 3,000 schools (over 1.2 million children) in the capital city, is taking its efforts UK-wide and renaming to the National Grid for Learning (NGfL).

The move follows LGfL’s acquisition of the NGfL trademark from the UK government’s long defunct edtech scheme, which was dissolved in 2010. Under the new plan around £50m is to be invested into the new National Grid for Learning (NGfL), which will be similar to LGfL’s existing “Ignite” network (see Pledge 2020) in that it will offer member schools a minimum speed of 100Mbps (e.g. primary schools), which can be boosted up to 500Mbps or 1Gbps (e.g. secondary schools) – often at no additional cost.

Related upgrades will aim to replace old equipment in schools, albeit often without them having to change their existing firewalls or routers. Apparently the first to benefit from the new NGfL expansion will be 80 schools in Essex (here), which are said to be busy replacing their older copper broadband lines at a discounted rate.

The system also comes alongside a built-in defence architecture for schools called CyberCloud, which includes internet filters, double firewalling and access to free Malwarebytes licences etc.

John Jackson, edtech Strategist and LGfL CEO, said:

“We feel very proud that we are now custodians of the NGfL trademark and felt it should be preserved and cherished.

LGfL believes that a new NGfL is about the digital transformation of UK education. It is a much broader ambition combining digital innovation, next generation networking, cloud computing, professional development, cost reduction, creative skills and wider organisational change.

Looking ahead, our intention is to make LGfL the Global Cloud for Learning, so watch this space.”

However a lot of NGfL’s future work is expected to focus on teacher training, since it’s one thing to roll-out a faster network but quite another to ensure that those who use it understand how to get the most out of the connectivity.

In most cases the delta between adoption and absorption is too large and technology becomes an expensive millstone rather than inspiring children and reducing teacher burdens. To help schools LGfL has created a team called Inspire to assist schools make decisions about technology and we are working on new tools and frameworks to assist digital absorption in schools,” said Jackson.

Speaking of broadband and education. Wireless ISP 6G Internet are separately connecting families to free basic home broadband in Blackburn, with refurbished laptops provided by the Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, which comes as part of a trial with the Sacred Heart RC Primary School. The free service permits 1GB of daily data usage but this becomes unlimited between 4pm and 8pm on weekdays and 9am to 9pm on weekends to help children do their homework.

Leave a Comment
5 Responses
  1. Avatar 1pF

    Do you mean UK wide, I am sure your wife would not be pleased otherwise 🙂

  2. Avatar New_Londoner

    I doubt some of the other “Grids for Learning” will be impressed at the presumption of the London Grid claiming a national remit for its expensive solution. Nor will some of the ISPs that focus on the education sector but without the involvement of London local authority personnel on their boards.

  3. Avatar AnotherTim

    How many schools still have inadequate broadband after the many and varied schemes that have existed over the past few years that have largely centred on schools?

  4. Avatar Meadmodj

    LGfL was set up originally by London Boroughs who remain their trustees. Widening their scope will allow them to maintain their effectiveness and the contract deals offered to the schools that subscribe to them.

    The expansion into Essex probably reflects that Essex County Council is withdrawing the Schools Broadband Service at the end of March meaning Essex schools have to find alternative broadband providers. The reason is that originally 97% of Essex schools subscribed but as more schools have become Academies and those under LA control have local budgets many have chosen to make their own arrangements.

    The real story for me is that the complexity confronting schools for broadband, IT infrastructure and the very wide applications presented each year at BETT is absolutely enormous. I am sure that some schools have excellent IT advice but I am also sure the majority don’t. I can only comment on what I have seen personally where schools have not understood their broadband needs, have paid multiple times for very similar functionality (Web, Homework, Parent Engagement, Learning, DMS etc) and are often maintaining both local and cloud computing licences.

    Should schools really be expected to be experts in Procurement and IT with the Head and Governors really understanding the implications?. Organisations like LgFL help but just looking at the applications they support shows conflicts/choice even for the schools that they cover.

    I feel for those given the responsibility of “IT” within schools and we as tax payers are paying for it.

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