School Broadband: What All Schools Should Know

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With the internet such a huge part of our lives (remember 15-odd years ago when dialling up to go online was a luxury?) it’s inevitable that school children are going to be using it more and more.

Most schools now use the internet in class, or to search for resources, on a daily basis – yet many of them don’t have a suitable connection. Whether it’s a slow connection, or poor filtering, this could affect its use and also expose children to material you’d rather they wouldn’t see.

To make sure you know what to look for in a school broadband service, and so you can check your current connection adequately meets your school’s needs, we’ve listed three top tips for getting a better school broadband service below.
Safety

The top priority for any school should be safety. e-Safety, and safeguarding of children while they’re online is a massive priority for Ofsted. It is essential that your internet service filters the bad from the good in order to effectively safeguard your pupils.

A handful of broadband suppliers will allow you to set your own filtering, meaning you can decide what your pupils don’t see, and what your staff do see. Some schools who receive their broadband service from local LEAs or large suppliers may have the filtering pre-set, meaning they are restricted in what content is actually viewable. Despite the preconceptions, in the majority of situations schools are not tied to receiving their broadband in this way; they are free to shop around.

It’s also worth mentioning at this stage that creating an e-safety policy for your school will help you demonstrate to Ofsted that you take online learning, and safeguarding of children online, seriously. An e-safety policy is mandatory to mitigate risks to learners and staff, and to help you set internet use boundaries. Maybe you could work with the children to put together an internet or e-safety policy for your school? You might also find our cyberbullying and online safety poster here useful.

Speed

A slow broadband connection can slow down your browsing of the internet – and slow down your school’s learning.

The Government recommends all schools look for an ‘uncontended’ connection when looking for a broadband supplier. This means you don’t share the connection with other

customers. It’s also a good idea to look out for a ‘symmetrical’ service – this means your upload and download speeds are the same: Some home broadband services deliver a much slower upload speed than download speed.

Also, avoid signing up to a broadband supplier with a data cap. Otherwise, you could end up with extra costs from exceeding your limit.  Unlimited services are widely available.

Peace Of Mind

The best way to ensure peace of mind when choosing a broadband supplier is to go with a supplier with a good reputation. Make sure the contract you are signing has clear terms of service, and you are made completely aware of any service downtime (ideally, you want a service availability of at least 99.9%).

Before signing any contracts, however, ensure that the changeover from your old supplier to the new one can take place with minimum – or no – service disruption.

Also, ask the broadband supplier whether their service meets Government guidelines for school broadband services. If they know what they’re doing they know what this is. If you want to see the full Government guidelines, you’ll find them here.

If you’ve recently changed to a better broadband service, or you have any useful tips and advice for better internet access and use in schools, please leave us a comment below!

 

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