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One class school gets early connection to Wi-Fi

Remote West Coast school Barrytown now has wireless internet access in its classrooms as the Ministry of Education stepped in ahead of the ultrafast broadband update scheduled for the school in November.

Barrytown School principal Katrina Hampton says the school had unused iPads and notebooks, with students unable to go online.

The school is nearly 30km from Greymouth on the West Coast of the South Island, with only one classroom of 18 kids.

Barrytown School was scheduled to be upgraded to ultrafast broadband in November. Hampton contacted the Ministry to see if anything could be done to get the classroom connected in the interim.

Manihera Taare from the School Network Upgrade Project looked into the school’s situation, the Ministry says.

He found that extending wireless to the classrooms could be done in advance, at no extra cost to the school.

“When we reviewed the school’s building plans, we could see that we could put in wireless equipment and IT network switches straight away,” Taare explains. “We sent a technician to the school early so they could get up and running with a full wireless system.

“Our plan is to upgrade the cabling part of the project as scheduled this month,” he says. “It won’t cost the school anymore because we were simply delivering the project the other way around.”

Taare says this was a unique situation where the Ministry could do this because the school was so small, and its existing cabling was largely in place.

“We’re there to help schools, so we try to be as flexible as we can,” he says.

Hampton says having wireless in the classroom has opened the outside world to Barrytown.

“We’re no longer just little old Barrytown,” she says.

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