Tibshelf Community School is a Derbyshire-based organisation serving 787 students across nine villages in North East Derbyshire and Bolsover.
In 2012, as part of a £14.9m project, the school decided to move into new buildings and upgrading the ICT infrastructure was at the core of this development.
Tibshelf found it essential to ensure that technology in the new buildings met 21st century standards.
The old ICT solution was tricky to work with – the old Victorian buildings meant wi-fi hadn’t been possible, 95% of computers were desktops, there were only four IT suites for all students to share, the servers were over eight years old and many contracts were reaching end-of-life.
The school wanted a new network to allow both staff and students 24/7 access to the systems, enabling the “anytime, anywhere learning” philosophy the organisation holds.
When picking a solution, Tibshelf wasn’t exactly sure what it required, it just wanted to tackle the problems presented by an aging IT estate and bring it up to date.
It was essential that new system was able to grow with the school and remain future-proof.
The school decided to choose Stone Group to supply new technology after research led it to believe this was a trustworthy and reliable supplier.
Tibshelf’s assistant headteacher Brian Fischer said that the concern wasn’t “how” – it was much more about finding an affordable, robust and reliable solution.
The chosen supplier worked with the school’s network manager Mark Dickens to come up with a number of potential solutions.
Tibshelf described what it wanted to do, while Stone suggested the equipment to achieve this.
“Stone has been very supportive in order to produce the solution that we now have. Having won the tender process, they listened carefully to what we wanted to be able to do, working alongside governors, staff and students,” claimed Fischer.
“They came up with a number of possible solutions that they then put into place,” he added.
According to Fischer, staff at the school are delighted with the way technology now works. They say that they can effectively work from home and not be able to tell the difference between home and the classroom.
Equally, students seem to be benefitting from the upgrades – current predicted grades suggest there will be a vast improvement in final qualifications awarded.
“Students now have significantly better access to ICT resources, we only really had one bookable ICT room on the old site and no laptops or wireless access and lessons now incorporate a much wider range of activities to support learning,” said Fischer.
The assistant headteacher praised Stone for a supportive relationship where the school was allowed its “wish list” of extras and not just the essentials required.
“Stone has been particularly supportive throughout the process and has always been willing to listen to our requirements, ensuring that we now have a bespoke system that suits our needs,” added Fischer.
Tibshelf and Stone’s next steps are to ensure everyone using the upgraded infrastructure is well trained and confident in doing so.