Nowadays, with ICT truly embedded in the curriculum, a connection to the internet is an essential element for both teaching and learning. Reliance on data and technology is also on the increase, so when it comes to providing students and teachers the ability to access a broad range of online resources, it’s important you use a broadband provider who offers a fast, reliable and secure service. With a high-quality connection, schools will be able to fully realise the opportunities technology can offer.
If you’re looking to source a new broadband provider for your school or trust, you may be wondering where to start. Decisions on the connection type, bandwidth requirements, and security provisions can have a huge impact on a school’s ability to meet its educational objectives. When considering a new broadband service, it’s important to find a provider who understands both the core network and the end-user needs.
Here are some key areas to consider that will help to ensure that you find the right broadband provision for your school:
An unreliable, intermittent internet connection can cause major disruption to both the education of your students, as well as the operational running of your school. The Department for Education (DfE) recommends that broadband should be reliable and resilient to faults and that typically, service would be available for 99.9% of the time.
It’s important to ensure you have a clear Service Level Agreement (SLA) in place, including a single point of contact for all service queries and fault resolution. A good provider will also proactively monitor your internet connection to identify and resolve performance issues or outages as soon as they arise.
It is essential that you choose a secure broadband service to help ensure the safety of students and the security of school data and services. A good system will protect your school community from external threats and unsuitable material by providing a secure online environment and provide alerts in the event of unsafe behaviour.
You should try to identify broadband providers who can offer this via a fully managed service for multi-layered security such as website filtering, email protection (anti-spam, antivirus etc.) and firewalls as part of their Schools Broadband package. For greater granularity, you may also prefer a service where you have the ability to manage your own filtering, enabling schools to easily customise filtering options to meet their needs.
Schools will also want to ensure the security of services which allow for transfer of confidential data or remote access to school systems and data, especially when staff work across multiple sites.
A good educational broadband service will have consistent and sufficient bandwidth. Download speeds of 100Mbps for secondary schools and 10Mbps for primary schools typically meet the needs of most schools, though this may vary from school to school. With more reliance on online resources in the classroom, it is also important to consider your future needs as bandwidth demand is on the increase. Good broadband services can be adjusted, to meet demand over the period of the contract.
It is easy to focus primarily on teaching and learning when considering your schools bandwidth requirements, however, it is important to not underestimate how important internet access is to all school operations, administration and management.
If you are part of a multi-academy trust or have multiple sites, it is worth enquiring about multi-site connectivity provisions, as most providers can provide advanced network solutions for multi-site schools, enabling all sites to access the internet over a single broadband connection.
It’s important to ask about the level of support that is included as standard in your prospective broadband package, including reviewing the service desk opening hours for times when you may require support. Having an expert team of engineers on hand to provide telephone, remote or onsite support is essential to ensure your school’s day-to-day operations run smoothly.
Schools often have many users accessing the internet simultaneously, meaning it’s important to choose a provider who can assure you will receive a high-quality broadband connection every time. Even at peak times of the school day, a good system will be fast enough to connect to common online resources when the system is busy. Services are often defined using download speed, however, schools should also consider the upload speeds of a broadband connection. This is the rate at which data from the school is uploaded to the internet, which is particularly important for cloud-based services.
Schools may want to check that service providers have a track record in education services and can demonstrate a sufficient understanding of educational broadband for schools. It is essential to check the contract carefully and, once signed, actively manage the relationship with the supplier, even at the end of the contract. Schools will benefit from comparing services on an equal basis (like with like) and assessing the total cost over the entire contract period. If your connectivity is part of a cloud solution or wider multi-site network, then a cost comparison to a regular broadband service won’t be an accurate comparison.
As the number of services using the internet continues to increase, broadband plays an increasingly important role in the operational running of your school. Many schools will require a high-quality, reliable connection and it is essential to make sure that the proposed package is not only tailored to meet your current needs but will also meet future objectives to minimise the risk of interruption to yours schools internet service.
To discuss our schools broadband service, contact us on 03000 411 115.