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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/choosing-the-right-broadband-for-your-school/broadband-for-schools-introductory-guide-for-senior-leaders
Why is high quality broadband important?
As the number of services using the internet has increased (and continues to increase significantly), broadband plays an increasingly important role.
Schools can be major users of technology and have many users who regularly access the internet simultaneously. Many schools will require a high-quality broadband connection that is superior to that required in a domestic setting.
High quality connectivity:
- will enable many of the school’s day-to-day operations
- can provide opportunities to reduce costs and access better services
- will make sure that everyone using the internet in the school community does so in a safe and secure way
A good system will:
- be fast enough for staff and pupils to use, even at busy times
- be reliable so that staff have complete confidence in the system
- protect your school community from external threats and unsuitable material by providing a secure online environment without restricting normal use
What schools should consider
Your service provider or IT support team should be able to provide reports on your current usage. You should look at:
- contracts - when was your contract last renewed or when is it due to be reviewed
- stability - have you had any disruption to your broadband service in the last 12 months or are short periods of lost service usual
- usage - how much bandwidth are you using, how often is the system running at maximum capacity
- performance – how long does it take to connect to common online resources when the system is busy
- security - does your current filtering system frustrate your users when making legitimate use of the internet
- curriculum - what plans do you have to increase use of the cloud and online services in the near future
What technologies are available
There are a range of technologies that are used to deliver a broadband service. Their availability and cost varies according to the location of your school.
The 2 most common types of connection are fibre or copper based.
Fibre is sometimes described as:
- a leased line
- fibre to the premises (FTTP)
FTTP uses a fibre optic cable between your provider’s network and the school. Services will sometimes be more expensive, but speed is:
The connection is often dedicated to the school.
Copper often described as:
- fibre to the cabinet (FTTC)
- asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL)
ADSL uses a copper cable to connect the school to your providers’ network all or part of the way.
The majority of domestic broadband users uses this method. For business or educational purposes fibre-based connections should always be the preferred option.
Download and upload speed
Services will normally be defined using download speed – this is the rate at which data can be downloaded from the internet.
However, schools should also consider the upload speeds of a broadband connection. This is the rate at which data from the school is uploaded to the internet. This is particularly important for cloud-based services such as:
- online telephony
- video content
- email services
Safe and secure connectivity
The online safety of members of the school community is critical. A high-quality broadband service will provide:
- filtering that suits the needs of the different kinds of users in your school - for example, guests, staff or older pupils
- good quality reports on internet use and issues
- immediate alerts in the event of unsafe behaviour so you can take appropriate and prompt action
Benefits for schools
Economy – saving money
A high-quality broadband solution could save you money by using cloud-based solutions instead of on-site products or services.
Efficiency – saving teachers’ time
A reliable connection can enable staff to:
- make greater use of online resources, safe in the knowledge they will work well in lessons
- collaborate with colleagues at other locations without having to travel
Effectiveness – what you can do
Good quality broadband will connect your school reliably and quickly to the outside world.
It’ll allow teachers, students and admin staff to make use of resources in the cloud without frustration or delay, secure in the knowledge they will be accessible when needed.
It’ll also help teachers to:
- increase the use of online digital resources and media to support teaching - complementing or replacing existing resources
- access materials away from the school
- make resources available from lessons for pupils to use outside class without effort or delay
- ensure that internet use is monitored, access controlled, and that appropriate staff are properly alerted of any at-risk behaviour
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
You may need to update your policies for managing personal data as part of any changes you make to ICT provision.
The data protection toolkit for schools includes more information.
The department’s commercial team has a range of advice and guidance to help you secure value for money and make the best use of your resources.
More information is available in:
Buying for schools guidance which provides advice and guidance
Deals for Schools which can help you get cheaper prices through pre-negotiated contracts across a range of technology products and services
Our Cloud computing: your school and the cloud guidance provides further information for schools when considering their cloud options.
Our Assessing your School ICT infrastructure guidance provides further information for schools when considering their infrastructure.