In order to give every child the same opportunity, every child needs access to the internet at school and at home. However Rata Street School principal Dave Appleyard estimates that half of his students do not have home internet access.

Fortunately, this is about to change thanks to a new pilot that aims to bridge the digital equity divide.

Te Awakairangi Access Trust (TAKA Trust) is leading an initiative to trial equitable digital access for students, supported by Hutt City Council, the Ministry of Education, Rata Street School, Network for Learning (N4L) and Chorus. This initiative will extend the reach of the Managed Network to students living without home internet access in Lower Hutt.

With the help of N4L and Chorus, the pilot will enable Year 5 and 6 students from Rata Street School to access the government-funded Managed Network from their home, so they can continue learning outside of school hours.

The Managed Network is used by more than 811,000 students and teachers across 2400-plus schools throughout New Zealand, providing fast, reliable, uncapped and safe internet for learning.

As part of the pilot, N4L will provide a number of Rata Street School students access to the same safe (filtered), uncapped internet experience they get at school using devices supplied by the school. The school’s internet use policies and N4L’s web filtering will apply to all students accessing the Managed Network from home.

N4L is working with Chorus to trial a wireless solution that will extend its fibre network into the homes of the Rata Street School students.

“Today is a significant step forward for our school community,” says Dave Appleyard. “For the first time ever, our children will be able to continue their learning at home with digital devices and share this learning with their families. It’s about giving them this choice to learn at home if they want to because until this trial came about, they wouldn’t have the option.

“It’s also about allowing learning to happen naturally wherever and whenever our students want to do their schoolwork. We are super excited and grateful to TAKA Trust, Hutt City Council, N4L and Chorus for coming together to make this happen for our young people.”

The trial is expected to begin later this year. If successful, TAKA Trust says they’ll work with the project’s partners to extend the trial to more students.

This is the second pilot where N4L is partnering with Chorus, the Ministry of Education, the community and a school to deliver wireless access into student homes for learning.

A similar pilot began earlier this year in Christchurch, where the Greater Christchurch Schools Network Trust is managing a programme involving students from Haeata Community Campus, to give a select number of students wireless home internet access to N4L’s Managed Network via Chorus’ network infrastructure.

N4L’s chief executive Larrie Moore says N4L is working closely with government and technology partners to trial new ways students can access the Managed Network.

“It’s about supporting the government’s goals for education by providing smart and safe equitable digital student access to learning where and when it’s needed.”

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