Poor quality Wi-Fi impeding flexible learning initiatives in UK schools

Research conducted by Wi-Fi provider Xirrus shows many schools are investing heavily in new technology equipment, such as laptops and tablets, without having adequate wireless infrastructure in place to see the benefits

Poor quality Wi-Fi impeding flexible learning initiatives in UK schools

Many UK schools are investing heavily in mobile devices, such as laptops and tablets, without having adequate wireless infrastructure in place to reap the full benefits, a new report by Wi-Fi solutions provider Xirrus revealed this week (22 January 2014).

The Wireless Wastage study, produced in collaboration with education partner Academia, finds that despite an overwhelming 92% cent of schools in agreement that Wi-Fi is vital to today’s learning environment, two in five or 40%, admit their wireless network doesn't adequately match their investment in classroom technology.

Furthermore, 4% of the schools surveyed are introducing mobile devices before ensuring the Wi-Fi can support them, signalling a strong need for IT decision makers in schools to set out a clear overarching strategy that relates to all aspects of school operations.

The findings show that 94% of UK schools are using wireless infrastructure, with 72% having invested in 2013, demonstrating how they’re embracing next generation technologies that expand learning options, such as 1:1 laptop-to-student deployments and bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives.

The report of 100 UK also reveals:

  • The greatest demand for good quality Wi-Fi is coming from teaching staff, with an overwhelming 94% saying that they need it to improve the teaching environment. 79% of pupils are also demanding this level of connectivity
  • Common wireless pain points among those surveyed include issues with supporting high numbers of users (31%) and achieving ubiquitous coverage (30%)
  • 53% of teachers at the schools surveyed are not given guidance on how to make the most out of Wi-Fi in lessons.

Sean Larner, International VP, Xirrus, stated: “Today’s pupils expect the same level of connectivity in the classroom as they get as home – to them, having Wi-Fi is just as important as electricity and water, and staff are also starting to see the benefit of having digital and mobile systems in the education environment.”

Although demand for better support and guidance is high, almost three quarters (73%) of schools are calling for more Government support on ICT in schools. A mere 3% of those surveyed receive grants or donations to help them share ICT best-practice with other schools, while 54% are calling for this level of engagement.

On top of this, there is also a significant lack of guidance and support from the government in terms of ICT training for teachers who are expected to implement successful flexible learning processes.

Larner continued: “These flexible learning and teaching initiatives create demands on existing Wi-Fi infrastructures that can increase by a factor of 10 in a single school year. A high-performance, reliable wireless solution is therefore imperative. There is still progress to be made on using Wi-Fi effectively in schools to deliver a better quality of education, and a need for a standard that is in line with the Government’s aspirations for this sector.”

65 secondary schools and 35 primary schools were included in the research. 17% of schools have less than 200 pupils, 31% have between 200-500, 28% have between 500-1000 and 24% have over 1000 pupils.

To download the full report please click here: http://wifi.xirrus.com/wireless-wastage

For a recent example of a high performing Wi-Fi network in a UK school, see:

Sudbury Primary School in the UK opts for remote learning with Xirrus Wi-Fi network


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