Reepham students’ internet struggles prove the need for speed

Students at Reepham High School and College are worried their grades could be affected because slow broadband connections are preventing them completing their homework.

Although the school itself has a good service, pupils from the large rural catchment area often find poor or non-existent connection speeds when they get home in the evenings.

And with an increasing number of assignments set online, it has left several youngsters struggling to keep up with their studies.

Grace Spenceley, 15, from Pightle Way in Lyng, said her family had no broadband service at all.

'It was so slow that half the time it didn't work at all,' she said. 'Since year seven I have been going to my friend's house!

'Half the village can get slow broadband, but other parts of it cannot get any. I changed my phone contract to a Blackberry so I could at least talk to my friends at school through Facebook and stuff like that. If I have got things to research I will try and do it through the phone, but even then it is ridiculously slow and it makes life harder when it comes to doing work.

'It makes you angry and frustrated, especially now during GCSEs it is so much more important that you get the work done to a good standard so you get the best you can achieve, but if you have not got the facilities you just cannot do it. It is stopping you from learning and affecting your future.'

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James Turner, 14, from Fakenham Road in Morton on the Hill, said his home internet connection was prone to freezing and crashing.

'If we're set an hour of homework then half of that time could be taken up waiting for the internet to work,' he said. 'Faster broadband would save a lot of time. I would be able to do lots in one night and get it all out of the way. I do feel like I'm running out of time most nights and it's a struggle.'

Acting principal Mark Farrar said the school had made its computers available at break and lunch times, but as 80pc of students were bussed in from isolated villages, it made it difficult for them to use the facilities after school.

'It is an enormous catchment and many of the students face enormous disadvantages,' he said. 'A lot of our resources, particularly in maths, are online so if pupils don't have good broadband at home they will find it very difficult.

'I understand how deeply frustrating it must be, but also the difficulties these pupils must face in terms of homework. It really brings it home and we will do everything we can to help them in school.'

The county council's Better Broadband for Norfolk project aims to bring superfast speeds of at least 30Mbps to as many people as possible, and provide a minimum universal speed of 2Mbps for everyone by 2015.

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