5G – Opening up a world of opportunities for primary school pupils

opportunities through 5G

Written by Patrick Melia, Chief Executive at Sunderland City Council

Patrick Melia, chief executive at Sunderland City Council, explains the latest 5G initiative to augment learning experiences and opportunities for local pupils, teachers and parents. 

With all the excitement surrounding 5G in the UK currently and the 5G projects delivering benefits to communities around the UK; it is with great pride that I share Sunderland City Council’s Smart City announcement that Hudson Road Primary School in Sunderland now has 5G ultrafast WiFi connectivity. 

Home to 280 3-11 year olds, Hudson Road Primary School can now access proven download speeds of 995Mbps – a staggering increase of over 7,000%. 

A recent survey by the National Literacy Trust found that a lack of investment in hardware, software and Wi-Fi was the greatest barrier to learning. This 5G implementation highlights the ongoing commitment to investment in Sunderland and more broadly around the North East.

Hudson Road Primary School was previously unable to partake in live streaming or video calling such as Skype, staff and students were left frustrated and disconnected from these technological advances. On 28th January 2020, all of this changed, with students and teachers now able to live stream, video call and access multimedia content to enhance the learning experience within the school.

Cathy Westgate, Head Teacher at Hudson Road Primary School has stated that “Working faster and smarter fits well with our values and ethos as a school. We want to engage and involve pupils and parents alike in a safe environment, allowing them to explore any topic and discover new things quickly and with ease. Our superfast 5G connectivity allows us to do just this.”

Mrs Westgate added that “We can now plan for further investments in digital tools, such as educational games or the use of virtual and augmented reality. 

“It’s a really exciting time for us and the idea that we can even consider such technologies opens up a world of opportunities for our pupils and local families.”

With security and privacy as cornerstones for the 5G implementation, key objectives of the 5G installation included the ability to help teachers, parents and pupils to feel secure and reassured that their online safety is paramount hence putting in place school level security filtering.

Sunderland is leading the way, taking action to align itself to the digital priorities of the UK’s ed-tech strategy. Launched last April, this national initiative is a £10 million plan to support innovation in schools, colleges and universities across England. The strategy covers an array of processes and initiatives and identifying various areas where technology could make a significant difference.

Sunderland’s Smart City Plan is driving innovation forward in all fields, but a particular focus is in ed-tech as we recognise the benefits this will bring to the next generation of digital leaders. 

The addition of this high-speed wireless network at Hudson Road Primary School means that the school can provide a seamless learning experience for pupils, enjoying connectivity way beyond their previous limits, including: online training, Skype video calling and digital interaction with other schools.

Improving connectivity in schools is a vital part to ensure families can remain connected to their children’s learning as well as engaging in opportunities themselves. And with gigabyte speed Wi-Fi also available to the parents of children at Hudson Road Primary School – in the reception and community rooms on site – the school’s digital capabilities and opportunities for valuable community engagement continue to expand.

As a digital leader Sunderland City Council is looking to engage numerous stakeholders, including schools, in an effort to ensure every child has access to the opportunities digital learning can provide. This is a huge step in the right direction from Sunderland City Council and I look forward to the challenge to ensure that every school reaps the benefits of innovation.

To find out more about Sunderland’s Smart City Plan, visit www.sunderlandoursmartcity.com


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