John Hardstaff, from entrustIT, dropped me a line to let me know about the changes that Churchend Primary School, in Berkshire, have made to their ICT system recently. The first quote from Nic Allen, the school’s ICT Co-ordinator was so typical of the low-level frustrations experienced by some schools:
If ICT is to be a key resource then it must just work – without the reliability and consistency problems
With their permission, here’s the complete story from the team at entrustIT, and Churchend:
A new approach to ICT at Churchend Primary School
Churchend is a leading primary school in Reading, Berkshire. It is a medium sized primary with approximately 60 KS1 and 150 KS2 pupils. The school has recently been awarded National Support School status.
In the summer of 2007, in response to problems the school was experiencing with reliability of their ICT, Churchend decided to undertake a root and branch review of ICT provision. While the staff at Churchend felt confident using IT and had the necessary skills, the systems often let them down. In particular, the ICT equipment was perceived to be unreliable, inconsistent and problem resolution was slow. These challenges were undermining the enthusiasm of both staff and pupils to use the ICT at Churchend.
Churchend set out on a path to maximise the benefit from ICT usage across the school. As Nic Allen, Churchend’s ICT coordinator says, “If ICT is to be a key resource then it must just work – without the reliability and consistency problems”. Access to ICT needed to be dramatically improved, particularly in the classroom, to give pupils the opportunity to use it in the majority of lessons.
The school began to explore alternative means of achieving reliable ICT provision, which would also allow a step change in availability of resources and enable pupils to use the school’s suite of software from home.
Eventually, the school chose to pilot entrustIT’s Education Desktop hosted IT solution. This is a fully managed IT solution for schools, specifically designed to address the major challenges in school ICT.
The system provides 24×7 access to a school’s ICT infrastructure for both staff and pupils – whether working in school or from home. In school, the system allows the school to increase the PC to pupil ratio, usually without any corresponding increase in funding, and to increase the availability of ICT services by reducing the amount of downtime and maintenance.
The entrustIT solution provides:
- support for pupils, teaching staff and administration staff – including provision for remote connection from any internet enabled location (e.g. from home) with full access to the school’s IT
- secure data management, disaster recovery and malicious threat protection
- full email server capabilities and diary management / scheduling
- shared drives and folders and central storage of school data
- management and support service releasing school staff and budget from IT management issues
- centralised deployment, licensing and management of software
- managed internet access, protecting pupils from unsavoury content and securing online communities from outside contact.
And the verdict? “The system has greatly improved the way that the teachers work and the children have thoroughly enjoyed working on the desktop at home” says Allen. “The children can access their school environment from home and many regularly communicate with each other using the emailing service. The teachers can prepare and place the work in a shared folder that all children can access and can use SharePoint so that the children can click through to web sites rather than have to type in lengthy web addresses.”
Now, ICT is reliable and consistent – so much so that IT has become ubiquitous across the entire curriculum – and Churchend have decided to roll out the system across the whole school.
Churchend school are talking at entrustIT’s free seminar here at the Reading Microsoft Campus on 25th September from 9:30am-2:30pm. Email Bonami to register for a free place, or look here to find out more about the event.