There are claims today that nearly half of school children in Nottinghamshire are being held back because they have such slow internet connections at home. The County Council is calling on the telecom companies to end the "digital divide" between those students living in rural areas and those living in towns.**
The authority estimates that, of the 115,000 pupils at schools in the county, around 51,000 (45%) have broadband speeds at home slower than 2mbps - making browsing slow, photos and videos difficult to upload and emailed documents slow to send.
Many students at the Minster School in Southwell come from rural villages with a poor broadband service. Year 13 pupil, Josh Cato, lives in the village of Fernwood near Newark.
– Josh Cato
The Internet speed in my area is so frustrating. You cannot comprehend just how much this gets in the way of my studies. Streaming videos, accessing educational software and carrying out Internet research is mind-bogglingly slow. Sometimes I just give up!
In contrast, Year 10 pupil, Thomas Groves, lives in an area of Southwell with very good broadband speeds.
– Thomas Groves
When I need to, I can access my school's files and learning resources from home using the school website. The Internet allows me to catch up on missed work and research in more detail the information I need to study.
Councillor Keith Girling, chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council's Economic Development Committee, said children with slow internet connections were increasingly at a disadvantage.
– Councillor Keith Girling
Schools are moving more and more towards online homework assignments and testing. It is simply not fair that those who live in rural areas get better broadband than those who live in towns.
The council hopes the figures will encourage teachers, parents and pupils to sign up to their Superfast Broadband in Notts campaign, which calls on Internet service providers to improve connection speeds in the county. In Nottinghamshire, three districts - Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood, and Rushcliffe - all fall within the bottom 10% of 630 constituency areas in the UK with regards to digital deprivation amongst families with children.**