Home broadband gives kids better GCSE results

The fat pipe effect...
Written by Natasha Lomas, Contributor on

The fat pipe effect...

Having web access at home can make the difference between a pupil getting grade A at GCSE and grade D.

The latest UK internet access report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed a clear link between education and online households.

Broadband from A to Z

Click on the links below to find out more...

A is for ADSL
B is for BT
C is for Cable & Wireless
D is for Dial-up
E is for Education
F is for Fibre
G is for Goonhilly
H is for HSDPA
I is for In-flight
J is for Janet
K is for Kingston
L is for Landlines
M is for Murdoch
N is for Next generation
O is for Ofcom
P is for Power lines
Q is for Quad-play
R is for Remote working
S is for Satellite phones
T is for Trains
U is for Unbundling
V is for VoIP
W is for WiMax
X is for Xbox
Y is for YouTube
Z is for Zombies

According to the ONS stats, degree-level educated adults are most likely to have internet access at home, while individuals without any formal qualifications are least likely to be online.

Home web access also appears to support higher grade GCSEs. Eighty-two per cent of individuals with GCE/GCSE A to C grade have the web at home, while just 74 per cent of those with grades D to G live in a wired household. Those with no formal qualifications are least likely to have access to the web (56 per cent).

Becta, the organisation that advises the government on educational IT, says six years of its research have established a strong link between educational attainment and access to technology - especially when it comes to broadband.

Schools that make 'good use' of broadband connectivity show statistically significant improvements in the percentage of pupils gaining more than five A* to C grade GCSEs in the year after broadband is installed.

Becta also claims schools that 'embrace technology' in general see a significant improvement in GCSE results, compared with those that do not.

Educational use of ICT at home by young people also has a positive impact on national tests for maths and English GCSEs results, according to Becta.

For GCSE science, Becta said the average gain from ICT use is 0.56 of a grade. Meanwhile, schools where technology is integrated across the curriculum and wider school life are statistically linked to higher points and percentage A* to C grades at GCSE and also schools have lower absence rates.

It's not just broadband and PCs that can have a positive impact on kids' education. The research also shows the humble interactive whiteboards can help improve pupils' performances in national tests in English, maths and science.

Stephen Crowne, chief executive of Becta, said in a statement: "The evidence is clear; when schools use technology effectively, it can have a direct impact on pupil attainment and results."

Crowne claimed only a fifth of schools are currently "using technology effectively right across the curriculum", adding that there is therefore scope to improve more pupils' grades.

He added: "Schools should make the most of the internet, mobile phones, interactive whiteboards, school radio stations, blogs, podcasts and video conferencing, helping to create a stimulating and engaging environment for their students."

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