Students disadvantaged by ‘non-existent’ broadband

A RURAL primary school principal has warned that students are struggling to cope with online learning due to ‘non-existent’ broadband.
Pupils who live in the Plumbridge ‘Super Output Area’, which takes in Cranagh, are remote learning in the most deprived area of the North in terms of access to broadband services.
As a consequence, the children cannot benefit from home learning during the Covid restrictions.
Olivia Coyle, principal of Cranagh Primary School said the situation is having “a profound impact” on the pupils, their families and their teachers.
“Why should the pupils, parents and teachers in our school be disadvantaged because of our location?” she asked.
“It is so frustrating for our school community that our internet provision is so poor, particularly during the restrictions. The fact that an upgrade is a number of years down the line is of no benefit to us now.”
While many local schools are providing excellent tuition through remote learning, teachers of Cranagh PS can only provide parents with paper copies of all schoolwork to be completed rather than using online methods.”
However, Ms Coyle has praised the collective efforts of the teachers and the parents to make the best of the situation.
“Due to the lack of Broadband provision, many of our pupils struggle to download and watch videos. They cannot access live lessons – or if they do, quality is so poor that they miss the vital messages, and they can’t return completed work to their teacher.
“However, teachers attempt to maintain a daily contact with parents and pupils through sending timetables, uploading tutorials and arranging some live lessons. 
“We also count ourselves extremely fortunate in having parents who show a high level of interest in their children’s education and they want to do all they can to help.”
The principal has highlighted the area’s lack of broadband coverage with the Education Minister, Peter Weir and local political representatives, but so far little has been done to help the school.
Ms Coyle continued, “The broadband provision in our area ranges from poor to non-existent. This has been a problem for years but it has been magnified in recent months due to the increasing number of adults and children having to work or learn from home. The Department of Education are willing to provide devices, but these are useless without internet access,” she concluded. 

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