Reepham High School students spread the Better Broadband message
Students at a Norfolk school have become standard-bearers for the Say Yes to Better Broadband campaign after learning about the importance of the internet in lessons.
Reepham High School is surrounded by internet 'not spots', so staff decided to help promote the campaign being run jointly by the EDP and Norfolk County Council to prove the commercial demand for a superfast upgrade across the county.
More than 10,000 people have so far registered their interest, and the final figure will be crucial in bringing the most competitive private telecoms bid to make the public-funded scheme a reality.
All the pupils' parents were contacted urging them to sign up, and the youngsters were also set a homework task of registering themselves. But some have taken it further, by persuading their family and friends to join in as well.
The school estimates as many as 300 registrations could have been achieved through these campaigning efforts.
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Jacob Jaggard, 13, from Marshall Howard Close in Cawston, said he had ensured that both his brothers signed up; Joshua, 14, and Oliver, 10. He said: 'It is important because they can get to use the computer without having to budge me off it all the time. And they can get on with their homework quicker, so I can get on with mine.'
Sian Poindexter, 12, from William Bush Close in Cawston, said she had also convinced her little brother to sign up. Kai, 11, is now spreading the word through his schoolmates at Reepham Primary. Sian said: 'It is really slow at home and takes forever to log on.
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'Sometimes you have to leave the room and walk away for a bit and then come back to it.'
Harris Wright, 13 from Hunworth, said: 'I think if other people did this it would benefit all the other schools, because they can get better broadband as well, making it easier to work in their schools.'
Humphrey Borgnis, the school's head of ICT, said: 'We talked about the importance of broadband in lessons and I gave the example of my brother-in-law in Hong Kong who has a gigabit per second service. Here, you are lucky to get 0.1 megabits in places like Lyng.
'We are developing a virtual learning environment which relies on the students being able to access it from home. It is a place where they can pick up work, contact each other and contact their teachers. People in some of the villages have only got dial-up speeds, so it is a real disadvantage for them.'
Tim Reeve, international co-ordinator at the school, said he had brought the local campaign being run by the Reepham Chamber of Commerce back to the school.
'They wanted the message spread around as much as possible and the easiest way to do that was for our office to email our database of parents,' he said. 'I also emailed the headteachers at our eight feeder schools and asked them to do the same.'
?The Better Broadband for Norfolk project hopes to bring superfast 30Mbps download speeds to as much of the county as possible by 2015. Norfolk residents and businesses can sign up at www.norfolk.gov.uk/sayyesnorfolk, or by calling 0344 800 8023.