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All schools in England to have access to gigabit broadband by 2025

The £150 million investment won't extend to schools in Scotland and Wales

School children using technology in class

All schools based in England will have access to gigabit-capable broadband by 2025, according to new plans set out by the UK government.

The £150 million investment is part of a £5 billion ‘Project Gigabit’ infrastructure programme, which aims to provide 85% of UK premises with gigabit broadband by 2025.

The high-speed connectivity will allow schoolchildren and their teachers to benefit from the best level of education possible.

Internet access has been linked to better grades by multiple studies, with some suggesting that having broadband connectivity in the classroom played a particular role in GCSE learning – especially in rural areas. A study commissioned by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) in 2018 found that students benefiting from regular internet access saw a 25% increase in GCSE grades.

Commenting on the announcement, education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said that digital technology “is changing the way we live, work, and learn”.

“We need to use our experience from the pandemic as a springboard to embed new and better ways of using technology in schools, and across education. This new investment moves us a giant step forward to helping ensure that every school across the country has the best technology. Upgrading schools to high speed broadband, setting out clear standards so that schools know what technology they should have in place, as well as providing funding to support them in achieving this, is the latest way we are levelling up education across the country,” he added.

The new plans set out by the Department for Education and DCMS will only see levelling up broadband connections in English schools, and doesn’t include schools in Scotland and Wales.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education told IT Pro that this is due to jurisdictional constraints, with Scottish and Welsh schools being subject to decision from their respective governments.

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However, the Scottish regions of Dumfries and Galloway and the Highlands were included in DCMS’ and the Department of Education’s plans to connect 1,000 schools to full fibre broadband as part of a £210 million investment announced in October 2021.

Meanwhile, the Welsh government has invested £900,000 to boost broadband projects in Powys, which is one of the worst-connected regions in the UK and is home to 93 schools.

The Scottish and Welsh governments weren’t immediately available to comment on the DCMS’ and the Department of Education’s announcement.

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