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Rural primary schools to get broadband upgrade in £82 million scheme

Primary school children could benefit from a new high speed broadband programme (Peter Byrne/PA)
Primary school children could benefit from a new high speed broadband programme (Peter Byrne/PA)

Up to 3,000 primary schools across rural England are to gain access to gigabit-speed broadband as part of a new multimillion-pound investment, the Government has said.

A joint £82 million investment from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department for Education (DfE) will see rural schools have the cost of connecting them to the faster broadband covered by the new programme.

The Government estimates the scheme could benefit as many as half a million primary school pupils over the next three years.

It is the latest aspect of the Government’s Project Gigabit, the £5 billion programme to roll out more reliable broadband to more of the UK, including hard-to-reach areas.

Gigabit broadband means speeds of around 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps) which is significantly faster than the current national average broadband speed of just over 50Mbps.

“Children’s opportunities in school should not be pre-determined by where they grow up,” Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said.

“Today we’re announcing millions of pounds to get lightning-fast broadband connections to rural schools and level up children’s access to the best possible teaching.

“Teaching has been revolutionised by digital technology and we need to make sure all pupils can benefit from the opportunity it brings.”

Schools minister Robin Walker said “high speed, reliable internet” was “crucial to helping schools provide the best possible experience for pupils”.

“This investment will open a whole world of possibilities for schools and teachers in hard-to-reach areas, whether that is through more access to online resources for children, or fast, top quality video streaming,” he said.

“It is more important now than ever for schools to be connected and this welcome investment comes on top of the programme of upgrades to connectivity and wi-fi that we are delivering through our Priority Education Investment Areas.”