Fifty-eight schools across the Falkirk area will benefit from enhanced connectivity after the local council penned a deal with Virgin Media Business to boost digital learning.

The multi-year deal with the telecoms giant will deliver wireless networks to all council schools in the catchment, providing the additional bandwidth needed to support its digital learning and teaching project, ‘Connected Falkirk’.

Virgin Media Business will provide ‘safe and secure solutions for the schools’, ensuring educators can help protect pupils from unsuitable content as well as provide a cloud management platform that gives the Council greater flexibility in managing connectivity.

The deal comes on the back of the local authority signing a four-year contract with XMA – one of the UK’s leading IT solutions providers – for 18,000 of the latest 8th generation iPads, ensuring equity of access to the latest mobile technology.

Both contracts help the Council take a significant step forward in its drive to transform teaching and learning, with £9.6m being invested into digital learning through Connected Falkirk over the next five years.

Part of the ambitious Council of the Future Change programme, Connected Falkirk is one of 23 projects that aim to modernise and improve services and help deliver the Council’s business plan.

As well as enhancing learning and teaching using iPads as digital learning devices, Connected Falkirk will provide bespoke training to teachers and pupils, improved connectivity in every school and safe and secure solutions that protect pupils from unsuitable content.

Robert Naylor, Director of Children’s Services, Falkirk Council, said: “As digital technology continues to revolutionise how we interact with the world around us, we must equip our young people with the tools and skills needed to succeed in a fast-paced digital world.

“Our investment in Connected Falkirk not only gives increased access to devices and a suite of powerful digital tools but will also improve connectivity and provide a dedicated professional learning programme for our educators, all of which will bring learning benefits to all.

“We believe the partnerships with Virgin Media Business and XMA will enhance and support the delivery of excellent learning to all our children and young people.”

Martin McFadyen, Head of Public Sector, Virgin Media Business, said: “We are proud that our cutting-edge technology will help Falkirk Council safeguard against network issues today, while also creating a digital learning environment fit for the future.

“With our support, thousands of children across the Falkirk area will be able to safely and securely access reliable connections that support their learning and help them build the digital skills they need to thrive in future.”

Michael Conlon, Education Transformation Consultant, XMA, said: “I speak for everyone in the XMA team when I say how proud and excited we are to be working with the Council on the Connected Falkirk project.

“Falkirk Council understand deeply the need to secure the future for their young people in an environment where 13,000 digital jobs go unfilled every year in Scotland, and where digital skills for life, learning and work will be paramount in helping them flourish.

“XMA bring all of our experience in 1:1 deployments to the project to help make that happen and we are committed to ensuring learning and teaching sits at the heart of what we aim to achieve.”