Broadband blamed for poor pupil performance

A survey conducted by uSwitch reveals that 1 in 7 parents claim poor home broadband hampers education.
Broadband blamed for poor pupil performance

Can slow home broadband really impact a child’s education? Well, new survey results unveiled by uSwitch suggests it can…

Homework is a crucial part of a child’s education, and parents have noticed that it increasingly requires access to the internet. In fact, according to the survey, conducted with 1,000 UK parents of children aged 5-8, around 1.9 hours of homework requires internet access every week. With so much homework requiring internet access, it’s no wonder than 15% of respondents (claimed to represent around 1.2 million children) think that slow broadband speeds are ‘negatively impacting their child’s education’.

The Government has already recognised the problems facing households and businesses across the UK, which is why it has announced a new Universal Service Obligation (USO) for ISPs. This would give UK citizens the ‘legal right’ to request a broadband connection with at least 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload. Unfortunately, that won’t go into effect until 2020, despite 69% of parents noting that the internet is now ‘essential’, rather than ‘optional’.

Admittedly, the education system has not always worked this way with such a strong reliance on pupil’s access to the internet to complete assignments; those who worked without the internet suffered few problems, unless of course you lost your text book, although the current digital curriculum is rather different.

Whilst 36% of parents also reported that their child has experienced ‘internet problems’ when attempting to complete their homework, the survey however does not divulge into whether these issues experienced by the pupils are related to broadband connection or faulty local networks/computers. Interestingly, parents in towns and cities were found to be five times more likely (28%) to blame internet problems for damaging their child’s education than that of the 5% living in rural areas.

Notably, the findings in this survey were somewhat unexpected; this is because 95%+ of the UK is estimated to enjoy or be within reach of a fixed 24Mbps network. The remaining 4-5% is said to reflect rural areas.

Additional highlights of the survey include:

  • 24% of parents believe their child’s ability to do homework is being impacted by slower connection speeds at peak times (in the evening).
  • 7% said their child doesn’t utilise online resources.
  • 40% say their child uses YouTube, while 38% noted use of Wikipedia and 32% turn onto BBC Bitesize.
  • 61% agreed that Laptop computers are the most common devices used for doing homework, with parents also reporting ‘educational’ use of tablets (54%), mobile phones (37%), games consoles (11%) and smart TVs (11%).

NCN would like to point out that as the coverage of fixed line based superfast broadband is on the rise, from 95% today to 98% by 2020, then the uptake may become part of the challenge. In spite of the growing coverage it’s still the case that little under half of all connections are conducted via slow ADSL lines.

While the survey reveals some eye-opening statistics, they should be taken with a pinch of salt… One of the many reasons being that the survey fails to define what good broadband speed for educational purposes looks like. But in the meantime, the coverage of super-fast broadband is continuously growing albeit at a much slower pace than before as a result of the challenges faced in implementing cohesive broadband in rural areas.


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