The use of the internet in schools continues to evolve, with many schools embracing online learning spaces and cloud- based storage. We are seeing huge growth in the number of devices in schools and as such the demand for higher bandwidth and more reliable connections increases. As Superfast Broadband continues to be rolled out across the UK, more and more schools are finding that a number of connectivity options are available to them.
Traditionally schools were connected to the Internet through initiatives from their local authorities and the government’s National Education Network. Indeed this is how our organisation was created: as the work commenced to connect schools a number of “Grids for Learning” were set up, to organise and procure the relevant services for the benefit of all the schools in a particular area.
Typically the infrastructure for this was specialist and dedicated to the schools in those areas, managed on their behalf. But increasingly the infrastructure that is required by schools can now be obtained from a number of providers like a utility.
The win here for schools is that costs can be significantly lower, and they have more choice.
The government’s plan is to provide superfast broadband to 90% of the UK by 2016, moving to 95% by 2017, with all households having access to basic broadband (2Mbps) by 2016. And compared to our European neighbours, we are actually doing rather well.
So can I get it, or what?
Your own view of the governments’ strategy will be based on whether these services are actually available in your area, but with 23 million homes already connected to Superfast Broadband, and 60,000 homes and businesses being connected each week, if it is not already available, it is probably only a matter of time.
South West Grid for Learning has been running “transformation projects” to migrate entire local authority areas to a range of different technologies, including Superfast Broadband where it is available.
You can check the availability of Superfast Broadband in your area with BT’s handy Superfast Broadband Checker tool.
You still need a specialist service
So you have the infrastructure available, and you are ready to get faster broadband for less money, now what?
As part of a transformation project you will still be offered SWGfL’s specialist service that differs from what you would get with a home or ‘business’ broadband product, as the requirements for a school are much different.
We know that aspects like safety, security, and support need careful thought to meet school needs. You need specialist content filtering to make sure that your learners cannot access inappropriate content, but also enable you to manage and tailor the configuration for the needs of your school.
You may also require other services such as email, DNS services, and hosting, which could also be bundled into your package.
What we provide
South West Grid for Learning, along with our partners at RM Education, have a contract to supply these specialist services to schools throughout the South West, and we have already completed “transformation projects” in many areas, with many more next on the list.
Hear what one of our recently “transformed” schools had to say about their new solution: “Our new broadband connection has made a real difference to our school. It’s given the staff the confidence to move forward with cloud based teaching and learning. We now have an Internet connection we can trust and are used to it ‘just working’. I sometimes have to remind people how it was only a year ago.”
We continuously monitor the availability of Superfast Broadband in the South West; if you would like to know if this is an option available to your school, or would like any advice on moving your school onto a Superfast Broadband SWGfL Service, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.