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LGfL reactivates National Grid for Learning brand

14/11/19

Mark Say Managing Editor

Educational technology charity LGfL has acquired the trademark of the National Grid for Learning (NGfL) as part of its plan to expand broadband connectivity for schools and public authorities.

The move comes with a plan to increase bandwidth for the schools that are members of the organisation under its Pledge 2020 project.

John Jackson (pictured), chief executive officer of LGfL – which is owned by a collection of London boroughs – said: “LGfL believes that a new NGfL is about the digital transformation of UK education.

“It’s a much broader ambition combining digital innovation, next generation networking, cloud computing, professional development, cost reduction, creative skills and wider organisational change.”

NGfL was launched in 1998 and for several years was managed by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) before the body was dissolved by the Coalition Government in 2010. Registration of the brand name has since lapsed and now been picked up by LGfL.

“Plenty of teachers will already know of NGfL, and from our point of view, being associated with a respected long term brand in education makes sense,” Jackson said.

Extending service

He said that LGfL now provides fibre connectivity for about 3,000 sites and is aiming to extend the service it provides for schools beyond London, with an early focus on the Home Counties and some interest from the North-West.

“We want to get schools onto fibre, which is one of the key foundations of the digital agenda in education,” he said. “They won’t be able to get the full use of cloud or augmented reality in the classroom without fibre.”

The move is accompanied by Pledge 2020, under which all of LGfL’s member schools will receive a 200% increase in bandwidth as part of their regular subscription, taking the minimums to 100Mbps for primary schools and 500Mbps for secondaries.

It will involve replacing old equipment so schools can implement the upgrade without having to change their firewalls or routers.

Jackson added that he is seeing an increasing take-up of cloud services by schools, notably in productivity tools such as Office 365 and G Suite, and Adobe Creative Cloud to support learning. There has also been a trend towards enabling pupils to use the latter from home.

Barriers

But he also highlighted some barriers in the way of digital transformation in the sector, saying that in many schools there is a large gap between adoption and full absorption into teaching and management.

“We like to call it the absorption challenge,” he said. “In our view it’s easy to adopt technology and fill a school with shiny new kit. It’s much harder to change the school so it becomes an organisation that is digital by default.

“That is a school that has mastered the use of cloud in the classroom, uses data to drive decision making and policy, has empowered teachers who are confident in using technology and is transforming pedagogy through the potential that technology can bring for children.”

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