The UK government has announced the allocation of £82 million to provide full fibre broadband infrastructure for primary schools in rural regions of England.
Funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Department for Education (DfE) will provide connections with speeds of up to 1Gbps for an estimated 3,000 schools and 500,000 pupils.
The programme will cover the costs of connecting schools that currently use copper cables and which are not likely to be connected to fibre by commercial roll outs.
Up to 2,000 schools will receive funding from the DCMS GigaHubs programme, which is part of Project Gigabit, a £5 billion programme to provide fast broadband in hard-to-reach areas of the UK, partly through connections to public sector buildings.
An additional 1,000 schools will receive funding from the DfE as part of its programme to give every school in England high speed internet access by 2025.
The department is also investing £30 million in the Connect the Classroom pilot project, which is aimed at upgrading technology in thousands of schools in priority areas.
A regional breakdown of the number of schools to benefit will be determined at the time of procurement, with costs determined by local factors at the project’s next stage. An engagement exercise will take place over the coming months with all eligible schools and procurement will begin during the autumn term.
Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “Children’s opportunities in school should not be predetermined by where they grow up.
“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.”
The departments said the £82 million has been calculated using the average site cost from the Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme, a precursor to GigaHubs. The potential number of sties included has been calculated by comparing a DfE list of rural schools to the GigaHubs eligibility criteria.