Cumbrian Pupils Wrap up Broadband Cabinet in Time for Christmas


Pupils at ​Hallbankgate Village School, near Brampton, are looking into the future, after giving the broadband cabinet outside their school a colourful makeover.

Pupils at Hallbankgate Village School, near Brampton, are looking into the future, after giving the broadband cabinet outside their school a colourful makeover.

Pupils had lots of fun imagining what Hallbankgate could be like in the future after a lot of research into emerging technologies. The futuristic, colourful design is set in the year 3018 and includes flying cars, a high-speed vacuum train, virtual reality communication, floating farms, holidays to space and intelligent buildings that are able to adapt to the environment.

Local MP Rory Stewart was invited to see the new cabinet design being unveiled, and he was also keen to find out more about how the school is using their superfast broadband connection, which was made available by the Connecting Cumbria broadband partnership.

Headteacher Philippa Maleney says superfast broadband is great for the school:

“Having a fast and reliable broadband connection at the school has made such a difference. We’re now able to use online resources that just wouldn’t have been possible before. Internet based learning is a huge part of a modern school and being able to fully embrace this has made such a difference. We can now easily stream video or use interactive sites to support mobile learning throughout the school.

“As well as learning, it also helps with the day-to-day running of the school. We are able to use our fibre connection to help with staff development, including things like video conferencing, which means we can meet with colleagues from elsewhere without having to spend valuable time away from the school.

“Being able to design a wrap for the broadband cabinet has really captured the imagination of everyone in the school. We’ve also had a visit recently from local Openreach engineers who were only too happy to spend time with our pupils, giving them an insight into what it takes to do their job. It was fascinating to learn about how our village is connected and to see what goes on behind the scenes to keep us all connected.”

Connecting Cumbria is a multimillion pound partnership between the county council and Openreach, the UK’s largest telephone and broadband network. More than 129,000 homes and business, including those in Hallbankgate, are now able to order high-speed fibre broadband, many for the first time.

The ambitious programme aims to make superfast broadband available to 95 per cent of homes and businesses in Cumbria by the end of 2019 and continues to seek further funding to provide services to the last 5 per cent. So far, almost 93 per cent of premises are already covered[1].

Rory Stewart MP is looking forward to further developments:

“It was great to see the imaginative design that the children had produced and to hear how useful superfast broadband is within their school. Bringing a decent broadband service to every part of Penrith and The Border has always been a top priority for me and I will continue to push for further government support for rural broadband wherever possible. Fast and reliable broadband is hugely important for our rural areas and I’m pleased to see the continued progress being made by the Connecting Cumbria programme.”

Jonathan Harris, Senior Programme Manager for Connecting Cumbria, said:

“Our investment in Cumbria’s broadband infrastructure is making such a difference and this is a really good example of the change that new technology can bring. Not only is it a huge boost for the pupils and staff at Hallbankgate School, but it also has a knock-on benefit for people living and working nearby. Local homes and businesses connected to the same cabinet will be able to order high-speed broadband at home and at work, which means it’s great for online homework, people working from home or running small businesses, and for those who enjoy streaming music and TV.”

Around 3,400 Openreach employees live and work in the North West, including Cumbria. And earlier this year, it was announced that workforce is expanding with around 240 new trainee engineers being recruited by the company to work on improving broadband speeds across the region.

Robert Thorburn, Openreach Partnership Director, said:

“It has been an absolute pleasure for our engineers to be able to spend time with pupils at Hallbankgate School and it’s great to see their imaginative design for the nearby broadband cabinet. Openreach is heavily involved in improving broadband connectivity across Cumbria, and in addition to upgrading and connecting people to our network, it’s also really important we play our part in the local community. Who knows, we may have even inspired the next generation of Openreach engineers!”

More information about Connecting Cumbria can be found at connectingcumbria.org.uk

[1]Latest figures – 92.85% - from thinkbroadband.com http://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/cumbria,E10000006