Residents in Dallington should be congratulated for starting a campaign which has delivered superfast broadband speeds to their local primary school which are ten times greater than the UK average. Previously, this school had been billed as the last remaining school in my constituency not to have workable broadband access.
Fast broadband access is provided by commercial companies, such as Openreach, when commercially viable to do so. With much of my constituency being rural, some parts are not connected. East Sussex County Council are using Government money to fill in these hinterlands but there was no set time for coverage the school to be connected.
The residents contacted me and asked if I could help. I contacted the Chief Executive of Openreach, Britain’s leading digital network business, to see if his organisation would, as an act of philanthropy, be willing to assess if an engineering fix could be delivered in order to bring about positive change for the pupils and teachers. I made the point that, rather than being critical in Parliament, it would be superb if I could stand up and thank Openreach for delivering innovative change. I was delighted when the Chief Executive asked his lead engineer to see what could be done and even more delighted when a plan was agreed to connect the school.
As a result of this fix, Dallington CoE Primary School now has access to faster broadband speeds following a successful trial of new technology. This Ultrafast Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) broadband is helping to open up a whole new world of learning for the 110 pupils and teachers at the school. It is capable of delivering speeds up to a remarkable 330Mbps. The average speed in the country is 10Mbps.
Openreach provided the school with this ultrafast internet speed by trialling a new fibre tester. The tester allows engineers to examine a cable and search for a spare fibre line, without cutting the cable. In this instance, engineers were able to re-design part of the existing local network and provide fibre to the school. It was fantastic to visit the school last Friday, with the lead engineer and his Openreach team, to see the pupils benefitting from ultrafast broadband speeds and to join with the pupils as we all had a go with the testers and pretending to be Openreach engineers for the afternoon.
The faster fibre speeds have already transformed the way that IT and other lessons are being tought. These children can now include a digital education in their learning as well as having all of the online tools to succeed in the classroom.
I am very grateful to Openreach, to the local residents, for first alerting me, and to the school for their endeavour in making this happen. It is a good example of a private organisation working with the community and delivering a project which will deliver enormous benefit to our young people. Like my constituents, I am passionate about ensuring that young people in the rural community get the best opportunities. This is one school where we really can say that they have the latest cutting-edge technology. I look forward to using the House of Commons chamber to tell of a positive tale in East Sussex.