Educational Life has teamed up with local I.T. Company, Think Big Tech, to highlight the plight of Luddenham School in Faversham who, unbelievably, is the last school in Kent to have a viable Internet Connection.

This issue first came to our attention when ‘Think Big Tech’ donated a shiny new laptop to Luddenham Primary School in late 2017 after the school won a FREE prize draw at the EDUKent show.  As he presented the laptop to the school, Think Big Tech’s Chris was surprised to find out that their internet download speed was approximately 2Mbps shared across the entire school. To put this into perspective these speeds were the UK standards over a decade ago.

The Government Broadband Directive published in 2013 stated that superfast broadband (speeds of 24Mbps or more) aims to deliver coverage to 95% of the UK by December 2017.  Luddenham Primary is by all accounts the only school in Kent that does NOT have fast broadband.  The school seems to have exhausted all known avenues to get their internet upgraded.

Their current internet speeds are undoubtedly causing teaching concerns and preventing students and staff from being able to deliver key learning resources.   The Children’s education will undoubtedly suffer as they are deprived of key teaching methods as teachers are forced to find workarounds when trying to deliver the curriculum.

I recently visited the school and spoke with Headteacher, Keeley Wilson, who said …

“I have been at Luddenham for a year now and, since my arrival, we have investigated having masts in neighbours gardens and were quoted £100 000 to have a fibre optic trench dug. These options are just not viable. So we have taken the bull by the horns and invited in our local councillor from KCC to discuss our issues. It turns out that we are the last school in Kent to receive efficient internet. Once we are connected, Kent will be able to say that all schools are connected. We are currently waiting to see if we have made it to the next priority list for efficient broadband speed from BT. If we are successful we may get some financial help to get connected. Let’s wait and see. We are still looking at an 18 month to two year wait to get connected, and that’s if this project get started soon. My children are managing to code as part of their curriculum but, as you can imagine, this is very tricky and can only operate 16 laptops at one time. My children cannot experience any live streaming, and any video clips to stimulate and support teaching and learning must all be downloaded away from school. I am dependent on my superb teachers to prepare digital stimuli at home. Even the running of school admin is challenged daily, with slow online payment systems and connections. We really need help to connect us up to the world so my children can receive a first class ICT curriculum.”

The importance of ICT within schools is fundamental to the preparation for future employment:

According to recent reports, ‘tomorrow’s university graduates will be taking a journey into the professional unknown guided by a single, mind-blowing statistic: 65% of today’s students will be doing jobs that don’t even exist yet.’

Technological change, economic turbulence and societal transformation are disrupting old career certainties and it is increasingly difficult to judge which degrees and qualifications will be a passport to a well-paid and fulfilling job in the decades ahead’. Source:  Microsoft

Unfortunately, to date, all attempts to find an alternative solution or to speed up the process have proved unfruitful.  ‘Think Big Tech’ is heavily involved in the Education Sector and feel compelled to help raise awareness of the school’s plight in an attempt to speed up the current broadband, upgrade applications they have in place before the student’s education is possibly permanently affected. Educational Life is happy to help in this quest.

Chris told me “Through technical advances and ensuring that Schools’ ICT is operating as it should, our aim within the education sector is to help teachers to teach and students to learn.  Our schools’ support includes everything a school needs to technically succeed; including Classroom Assistance, Onsite Tech, remote Support, Strategy & ICT Business Planning, plus as a new incentive we hope to soon be launching Class Room Coding Clubs that will be part of the ICT Curriculum.”

I can’t imagine how Luddenham School manages so well without a viable internet connection … I don’t think I could effectively work without being able to connect. Having spent so long working in schools and seeing all of the technological advances since the turn of the century, I can see how this situation is potentially disadvantaging this school. Surely it’s about time these young students were able to access the same ICT provision as their peers from other Kent Schools.

What do you think? Could you work effectively without a decent internet connection? We’d love to hear your views.