Parkside School, Norwich
Parkside School exists to help youngsters and we try to be as flexible as possible, balancing the requirements to maintain a stable and developing environment within school and meet the needs of the pupils who, for whatever reason, are not able to continue within mainstream education.
All pupils who attend Parkside School carry a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP).
Parkside School were, like a lot of schools, under a contract with the Local Authority supplier for ICT support but found the leased equipment was dated or failing, the broadband connection went down frequently and the cost of the package was increasing. Urgent call outs took around a week rather than same day, which resulted in lost teaching time.
The school’s internal ICT Technician also left the school, and the decision was taken to train a younger technician with external mentoring to develop their skills over the longer term.
Following a recommendation to Parkside, Netcentral started discussions with the school on their exact requirements and conducted a comprehensive review of existing systems to provide the most effective solution for the school.
To improve the IT infrastructure, extensive cabling work took place throughout the building incorporating a cabinet relocation, cabling for a new access control system and installing network points in new build classrooms. Two new servers were installed to replace the leased equipment, including virtualising an existing server on a Microsoft Hyper-V server. To meet security and compliance requirements, pupil data was moved onto a separate server and a Smoothwall content filter and firewall solution was installed. As a back-up the old system was kept in reserve in case of a fault or failure in any element of the new system, so the school could continue running while the fault is rectified.
To address broadband downtime, Parkside switched to Netcentral’s School Broadband package, which is twice the speed of the previous connection. For pupils with hearing disabilities, two sound field systems were installed in new classrooms. In the school hall Netcentral installed two projectors and electronic projection screens, which can be either used separately or linked to the same video source.
Netcentral also put a mentoring arrangement in place to provide support to the schools internal ICT Technician. With a twice-weekly support visit from a dedicated member of staff, any issues requiring guidance can be supervised and solutions found together. The school has worked in partnership with Netcentral on ongoing ICT support as a result since 2013.
“The new IT system is so much faster enabling us to do much more than we could before, completely transforming the way we work. We constantly had connectivity problems but our new faster Broadband is far more reliable and twice the speed. The system we have is completely individual to our specific needs and is quite simply brilliant.
“The support from Netcentral is second to none, as a school we are much better off using a smaller company who are able to offer a personalised solution with outstanding support and service. We can call Adrian with any problem and he fixes it immediately – in addition he goes above and beyond the remit by providing extra support on problems unconnected to ICT, such as our access control installation!
“Although this was quite an investment for the school, we’re now able to choose the solution that best suits us. The cost of purchasing our own equipment was higher than leasing however our new system will deliver long-term savings and be cheaper to run in the future – as well as being 100% fit for purpose.”