Wales

Poor broadband for 28 primary schools across Wales

Superfast Cymru has connected over 610,000 premises Image copyright Thinkstock

Slow broadband speeds have left 28 primary schools facing problems using online learning resources, it has emerged.

Powys and Carmarthenshire each have six schools - the most out of the nine local authority areas affected.

The head teacher of one school described the situation as "a form of rural deprivation".

The Welsh Government acknowledged more needs to be done and said a funding announcement was made in November.

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

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 - 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 inadequate broadband connectivity.

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

"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.

March target

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 platform.

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 £5m to enable all schools to have access to superfast broadband.

A spokesman for Ms Williams 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."

More on this story