How DfE’s Connect the Classroom funding is levelling up fibre in schools

From interactive whiteboards to educational apps, technology has truly revolutionised the classroom experience. No longer limited to textbooks and lectures, students today have access to a wealth of online resources that empower them to learn at their own pace, explore new interests, and collaborate with peers — ultimately preparing them for the digital world they will inevitably inherit. 

But with such varied access to critical resources, how can schools facilitate more flexible and future-proofed learning models? Tim Mercer, Vapour CEO, explores how government funding can equip schools with the infrastructure they need… 

What is Connect the Classroom funding?

Initially trialled in 2021, when the pandemic forced lessons to transition online, the Department for Education’s (DfE) Connect the Classroom programme was plugged with a further £82 million investment in 2022. As the name suggests, the initiative encourages the rollout of better broadband to schools spanning Cornwall to Cumbria.

Up to 3,000 eligible institutions and 500,000 primary aged pupils are set to reap the benefits of new infrastructure and connectivity, capable of delivering up to 1,000 megabits per second. This includes unparalleled access to an ever-growing library of online resources to supercharge the learning experience, as well as the ability to link up with people anywhere in the world.

Which schools are eligible for support?

The initiative is open to all schools in priority education investment areas, plus those with an Ofsted rating of ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’. If you're located in Bradford, you're in luck, because the city is included in both of these criteria. The aim is to support those in locations not likely to be covered by commercial rollout and stuck on near-retired copper network.

The government grant covers the full cost of upgrading and extending the institution's wireless network across the entire site — including the replacement of switches and network cabling if necessary.

But there's a catch. The solution must comply with the DfE output specification, and schools are responsible for finding their own supplier to carry out the work, following their own procurement rules — including obtaining three quotes — as well as managing the contract.

To assess the extent of their eligibility, schools will need to submit a proforma ‘network assessment form’ and a standardised quote from their preferred supplier. The DfE Connect the Classroom team will then evaluate the solution and associated costs before approving the funding and enabling the project to begin.

Why is this important for your school?

The benefits of a reliable and fast WiFi connection can not be overstated. Anyone who has attempted to log dozens of devices onto a domestic-grade system will attest, a subpar network can put even the most forgiving teachers through their paces.

And with the digital landscape constantly evolving, there’s never been a more crucial time to keep up and embrace this excellent opportunity — enhancing the quality of education delivered to students and enabling access to integral technical resources.

With a wealth of experience in the education sector, supporting the unique requirements and growing challenges facing institutions today, Vapour is perfectly placed to level up your wireless network and help to unlock the benefits of full fibre. Why not get in touch today, to start the conversation?

You can learn more about the scheme, including eligibility criteria, here.

Posted By Vapour Comms Team

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