Link ICT has been appointed by numerous schools across the East Midlands as part of a government initiative to provide funding to improve classroom connectivity but we think more needs to be done to publicise the scheme.
The ‘Connect the Classroom‘ scheme is a Department for Education (DfE) programme which provides funding for schools in eligible areas to upgrade their IT network. Many schools are using technology to improve their classroom learning experience and have invested in tablets and digital screens, for all pupils and staff. However the ability of the IT network to cope with so many additional demands on bandwidth often leads to poor connectivity and slow performance.
To help improve connectivity, the Government has identified 55 Education Investment Areas (EIAs). Within these areas schools qualify if they have an Ofsted rating of ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ and don’t already meet the DfE standards for wireless. Locally this includes schools in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire.
The list can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/education-investment-areas/education-investment-areas
The government has also identified 24 Priority EIAs. All schools in these areas are eligible to apply for funding, whatever their Ofsted rating if they don’t already meet the DfE standard for wireless. Locally these include schools in Derby, Nottingham and Stoke on Trent.
The list for the Priority education investment areas is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/education-investment-areas/priority-education-investment-areas
Mark Fryers is Managing Director of Link ICT who specialise in providing outsourced IT services to schools. He praises the scheme, but says that some schools have been deterred from applying because they don’t understand the application process.
Commenting he said, “I think it is important to raise awareness of the scheme as there is a lack of knowledge regarding how to apply. Once we have explained the scheme, the schools we have upgraded have found the application process easy to follow and have been successful with their funding application. These schools are now benefitting from the many advantages of using digital technologies. Both teachers and pupils are delighted with the faster performance speeds as this means everyone enjoys a better learning experience.”
He continued “I urge all eligible schools to consider applying for this funding. The time is limited to get on the scheme, and may not continue past the end of February 2024. Most pupils are accustomed to using digital technology in their everyday lives at home. It is therefore important that school IT systems are equipped to continue this experience in the classroom. It will save schools money in the longer term as they won’t have to pay for these upgrades later on without additional funding”
Further details about the scheme are on the gov.uk website. Grants of £10,001 to £100,000 are available and are awarded on a competitive basis.