Mid Wales schools hit by internet speed gaps

Poor broadband speeds have left a number of primary schools in Mid Wales facing issues using online learning resources.

Schoolchildren school pupils classroom stock

It has emerged that there are at least six schools in Powys where broadband connectivity has affected resources for pupils.

The figures were revealed when Montgomeryshire AM Russell George wrote to Education Secretary Kirsty Williams over a complaint he received from Ysgol Pontrobert in Meifod.

In a letter from the school to Mr George, published by the Welsh Conservatives, it said: “Internet speed is so slow here that we cannot achieve hardly any of our tasks from the new digital competency framework.

“It would take all morning to connect to Hwb [teaching resource] – which all Welsh pupils should be actively working on daily.”

Mr George said it was unacceptable that hundreds of children across Wales were still at an educational disadvantage because of the problem.

He said: “Children from rural areas risk seriously falling behind in their learning unless they are afforded the same access to broadband as their urban equivalents.

“The Welsh Government must take urgent steps to redress this if they are to successfully roll-out the new curriculum.”

In a written answer to Mr George, Ms Williams said the vast majority of schools were in receipt of broadband speeds which will support the use of Hwb and other digital initiatives.

She said 28 schools were below the minimum commitment of 10 megabits per second but it did not necessarily mean they could not access the Hwb resource. Ms Williams said the delays had been due to “high excess construction costs which were primarily a result of poor telecommunications infrastructure in the area”.

In November, the Welsh Government announced a £5 million project to enable all schools to have access to superfast broadband.

John Williams, spokesman for Ms Williams, said work was now being carried out to ensure all affected schools will have increased broadband services by March.

He said: “With 28 schools still needing improvement, we recognise there is more to do.”

“Which is why we have also just announced an additional £5m to enable all schools to have access to superfast broadband and ensure they have the infrastructure needed to prepare pupils for the modern world.

“We are working closely with the respective local authorities to ensure all 28 schools affected will have increased broadband services to support the digital competence framework by end of March this year.”

Subscribe to our Newsletter