Before 2013, Orleans Park School had no wireless Internet access at all. With the help of ICT solutions provider Stone Group, the organisation has gone from nothing to both internal and external wi-fi access that has enabled the school to adopt a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy.
The Twickenham, Middlesex-based institution is a comprehensive school for 11-16 year olds that has recently opened its doors to its first intake of Sixth Form students. To make way for this, the school has expanded geographically. There are currently around 1200 students, including the new Year 12, and 200 staff.
In order to keep up with ever-changing modern technology, give students access to the most modern methods of learning and implement a BYOD policy at the organisation, it was clear that acquiring a wireless network was going to be absolutely essential.
“Until [the end of 2013] we had no wi-fi in school at all. Our PC estate, which is around 450 desktops, was connected via a wired infrastructure,” claimed Peter Richardson, senior IT technician at the school.
“We’re ambitious academically, keen to support our students of all ages, and adamant that we wanted our new Sixth Form facility to be as connected and flexible as possible.
“Therefore 2014 was an excellent time to deploy a wireless network, with the aim of giving both pupils and teachers the ability to work with mobile devices from wherever they happened to be in the school grounds,” he added.
Shortly before the procurement process began, Richardson had visited Mercedes Benz world for a BYOD seminar. At this event, the Cisco Meraki 802.11ac wi-fi network was on show and he was thoroughly impressed by this.
Because Meraki had recently been acquired by Cisco, Richardson felt the product had huge power behind it and could be trusted to not disappear any time soon. Stone Group was then chosen to install the infrastructure.
The rollout of Cisco Meraki across campus was both smooth and very quick. Stone took the time to conduct a wireless access survey at Orleans Park before any installation took place.
The survey meant that wireless access points were only installed where absolutely necessary in optimised positions. This even allowed for an external access point, as well as a huge reduction in time taken to equip the entire organisation with wi-fi.
“Stone’s expertise meant the installation was quick and painless. The MR34 Access points it supplies are the fastest AC standard available,” claimed Richardson.
“It takes literally seconds to download a video clip or music file to support a lesson,” he added.
Installing wireless Internet access across Orleans Park has provided large benefits for both students and staff.
“We now have an uncontended, 100MG Internet connection. It’s really quick to connect and moving from classroom to corridor and beyond, nobody notices the cell changes or a drop in availability,” claimed Richardson.
Having an external wireless access points has saved time and effort for PE teachers as they can now take their registers directly on iPads, rather than taking a paper register on the fields and having to upload it to the computer system later in the day.
The educational institution is also a lot more mobile – teachers are no longer tied down to their classrooms and the possibilities for hot desking have vastly increased.
“[The connection] is incredibly fast, downloading files in seconds. Learning is no longer classroom based here, it can be anywhere on-site with no awkward bandwidth downtime,” claimed Richardson.