Nadhim Zahawi has pledged to get every school in England access to high-speed internet by 2025, with £150 million in support funding available.
The education secretary made the pledge as he opened the BETT Show education technology event in London this morning.
It is the latest step in a cross-government programme to roll out “lightning-fast gigabit broadband” across the UK.
The £150 million fund will support schools most in need of an upgrade to their broadband connection.
Ministers were previously accused of having a “lack of ambition for children” in November after it was revealed almost a fifth of schools faced at least a five-year wait to access full-fibre broadband.
Over the next three years, the DfE will contact schools in “priority areas” to help facilitate faster and more reliable connectivity.
Priority areas will include the 55 education investment areas named in the DfE’s Levelling Up white paper in February.
“We need to use our experience from the pandemic as a springboard to embed new and better ways of using technology in schools, and across education,” Zahawi said.
“This new investment moves us a giant step forward to helping ensure that every school across the country has the best technology.”
DfE reveals new technology standards for schools
Zahawi also announced plans to publish the DfE’s first set of technology standards for schools.
The standards will support schools in understanding what technologies they should have in place to best support effective teaching – with specific reference to broadband and in-school connectivity.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL school leaders’ union, welcomed the new support and said it was “important to seize the opportunities offered by technology to enhance the learning experience of young people”.
Caroline Wright, director general of the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), added that research indicated teachers’ top three concerns were“connectivity and infrastructure, ICT training, and a lack of funding”.
“I’m glad that the DfE has listened to the evidence on this occasion and is announcing plans to improve connectivity and provide digital standards guidance to better help schools understand the baseline infrastructure that is needed to start addressing the digital divide that exists in our schools.”