Sacriston school kids can surf superfast after the end of school bell

Pupils from St Bede’s RC VA Primary School attend launch event with Kevan Jones MP to mark the arrival of superfast broadband in the village 

School kids in Sacriston can now enjoy superfast broadband speeds at home as well as at school thanks to the Digital Durham roll out of high-speed, fibre broadband.

Around 3,350 households and businesses in the village can now access the new technology and get speeds of up to 80Mbps 1 - with a further 1,300 Sacriston premises due to be included in the rollout programme in the coming months.
For local children, that means being able to access online learning materials or do research for school projects as quickly at home as they would be able to within the classroom walls.

The arrival of super-fast fibre broadband was welcomed by Louise Keenan, head teacher of Sacriston school St Bede’s, who said: “Use of the internet now touches every part of the curriculum, with pupils using it most school days. Outside of school they may need to complete online research for school projects and a variety of other schoolwork. Without fast connectivity and speeds at home there is the risk that children will miss out on what is now an essential learning tool, so having fibre in the village is great news.

“High-speed internet will bring this knowledge into the classroom faster than ever before.”
Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham, joined the pupils and representatives of the Digital Durham programme and BT, at the Fulforth Centre in Sacriston to mark the arrival of the new technology.

He said: “It’s great that Sacriston and many other parts of my constituency are now befitting from the Digital Durham fibre roll-out – and it’s wonderful to have some of the local school children here to help celebrate today’s technological milestone.
“Fibre broadband will be a big plus for homework as well as all the other things families like to do online. More than that, it’s an investment in the future – for these children, local businesses and the long-term economic prosperity of the whole community.”

Cllr Jane Brown, cabinet member for corporate Services at Durham County Council, said: “As a council we are committed to making sure children have access to the best educational tools possible and the arrival of superfast broadband in Sacriston is sure to prove a real boost for local pupils.

“It is really important that children make the most of the benefits that digital technology can bring, such as being able to find out information quicker to help with their homework or easily accessing online resources as part of their studies.”

Ten new fibre broadband cabinets in Sacriston, which are connected to the telephone exchange by around 12.5 km of underground optical fibre cables, have already ‘gone live’ thanks to the Digital Durham programme and more work is scheduled to bring the technology to a further 1,300 premises in the coming months.

St Bede's pupils are also joining forces with staff at their local community centre, The Fulforth Centre. Together, they will develop a digital inclusion project to help local people of all ages to brush up on their online skills or master a new one. The project will allow children to develop and share their internet skills with the wider community.

Gemma O’Brien, project development worker at the centre, said: “The Fulforth Centre is a really important hub in Sacriston. Developing a project which enables children to share their knowledge with their friends, family and other members of the community will be a fantastic opportunity for them to practise and hone their skills. Teaching others is a great way to learn.”

Simon Roberson, BT’s North East regional partnership director, added: “This is what the Digital Durham project is all about – making a real difference to communities across the county in improving business, education and leisure opportunities and accessibility generally.”

Digital Durham is a £25 million initiative to transform broadband speeds for businesses and residents across County Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland and the Tees Valley.

In April 2013 a partnership of eight local authorities, including Durham County Council, agreed a deal with BT to extend high-speed fibre broadband availability to around 94 per cent of premises by the end of 2016. It is also aiming to provide a minimum of 2Mbps broadband speeds for all within the programme area.

BT’s investment of £5.9 million bolsters the public sector investment, which originally included £7.8 million from Durham County Council & Gateshead, £9.1 million Government funding from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and a £1.3 million contribution from public sector partners in Sunderland and Tees Valley.

In February 2014 more than £1 million of further government funding was secured to invest in extending fibre broadband coverage in the Durham and Tees Valley area.
The extra funding, along with an additional investment from BT, will enable Digital Durham to extend the reach of next generation fibre broadband coverage to 98 per cent of County Durham homes and businesses.

For more information about the Digital Durham programme please visit www.digitaldurham.org


180Mbps is the top wholesale speed. Internet service providers (ISPs) may use different speeds in their advertising. Individual line speeds will depend on network infrastructure and the service chosen by the ISP

Notes to Editors:

Superfast Britain is a Government investment of £1.08bn in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio comprises three linked programmes:
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.

For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk

About Digital Durham
The Digital Durham programme‘s vision is to improve the economic and social wellbeing of residents, by enabling a greater access to digital services through the provision of fibre broadband and other ground breaking technologies to businesses, homes and communities in County Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland and the five Tees Valley areas.

Working in partnership with BT, we aim to bring faster broadband to those areas that are outside of any commercial rollout plans. By mid 2016, we aim for at least 90% of properties to have a minimum of 24 Mbps and all premises at least 2 Mbps; and the remaining 10% to have 24 Mbps by the end of 2017.