More than 1m children’s education at risk due to poor broadband access, finds study


More than 1.2 million children could be falling behind at school because of slow broadband speeds at home, a new study shows.

According to research by uSwitch, internet access is now required for around half of all homework set, with 69 per cent of parents agreeing the internet is “essential” to their child’s education.

Just 7 per cent of parents said their child does not use the online resources for homework, while 32 per cent said their child uses BBC Bitesize, 38 per cent cited Wikipedia and 40 per cent said their child uses YouTube for educational purposes.

However, as the use of digital learning tools becomes more common, parents have also reported increasing difficulties, with 36 per cent stating that their child has experienced internet problems when attempting to complete their homework. Meanwhile, 15 per cent of parents believe internet problems at home are directly responsible for their child falling behind at school.

“The fact that poor broadband connectivity at home could be having a material impact on our children’s learning is deeply worrying,” said Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch.

“For some time now, teachers have been warning of a nationwide risk that children could fall behind if broadband speeds are not up to par.

“Superfast broadband is now available to over 96 per cent of premises in the UK and can cost as little as £20 a month. Take-up of these faster, more reliable services is still not where it could be – despite one in seven parents believing their child is falling behind at school because the internet is not working properly at home.”

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Mr Neudegg added that while the Government has recently announced a voucher scheme to help small businesses connect to full-fibre broadband, “it’s high time attention was turned to helping families get on to better suited, more reliable broadband services”.

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