Pure Telecom CEO Paul Connell along with two schoolchildren at a computer

Almost half of Irish parents believe poor school broadband is holding back their children

And a third would think about moving their child to a different school if their current school had unsatisfactory broadband access.

Broadband is a household essential these days, and it’s being used more and more in an educational capacity, too.

In fact, it’s become so important that a new survey from Pure Telecom has found that almost half (46%) of parents of primary or secondary school children believe substandard or no school internet hinders the quality of their children’s educational achievement.

Perhaps unsurprisingly - given the much-talked about digital divide in Ireland - the research showed that the majority of those parents are living in areas outside of Dublin.

The survey found that, this year, the average parent spent €213 per child on internet-connected devices intended for schoolwork, so it’s no surprise that a significant two-thirds of parents think that internet supports their children’s learning. The research also found that 16% of the typical child’s homework relies on the internet.

Already, under the Schools 100Mbps project, the Government rolled out 100Mbps broadband to all 780+ post-primary schools in Ireland.

And - earlier this year - the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D., launched the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 Action Plan 2017, which includes €30 million in ICT grants to schools, as well as a programme to enhance high-speed broadband connectivity in primary schools.

Despite all this, a quarter of parents believe their child’s school still isn’t doing enough to encourage learning via internet-connected educational resources. And a third of those surveyed even said they’d consider moving their child to a different school if their current school had unsatisfactory broadband access or speeds.

Speaking about the survey, Pure Telecom’s CEO, Paul Connell, said it is concerning that so many parents believe their child’s educational achievement is being stunted by poor broadband speeds and access in school.

He added: “It is great to see the Government investing in a digital strategy for schools including technologies such as interactive screens and cloud-based learning tools. The availability of high-speed broadband in all – not just secondary – schools across Ireland will be crucial to its success.”

And, on the digital divide in Ireland, Mr. Connell said that the infrastructure isn’t in place to deliver broadband to everyone, adding that Pure Telecom has agreements with several of Ireland’s major wholesale telecoms providers, which allows the company to bring broadband to any location that has a fibre network.

However, he said that they are relying on the rollout of the National Broadband Plan in order to provide broadband to Ireland’s harder-to-reach locations, concluding: “Unfortunately, until the National Broadband Plan is implemented, we will continue to see schoolchildren hindered by poor internet speeds and lack of access.”

The online survey was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Pure Telecom in July 2017. The research polled parents of primary and secondary school students from a group of 1,001 adults.