A comprehensive package on a budget for Corby Technical School Giving the school a totally seamless IT environment
Corby Technical School's focus on technology meant that, as part of their new school build in 2013, they needed a comprehensive new IT package. They had struggled with their wireless connection in the past, and had previously been unable to install important programmes.
Their brief was to give their students a fully professional experience, to mirror the world of work specifically, using engineering applications including computer aided design. It was also essential that they could access these applications at home. Budgeting for this was a challenge for the school, which had a fairly limited and tightly controlled budget to
complete the job – yet the Chief Executive had asked for "state-of-the-art" solutions.
As Matt Robbins, Head of IT for Corby Technical School, explains:
“In addition to fulfilling the requirements of our science, engineering and manufacturing technologies specialisms we
also needed the flexibility to deliver the broad national curriculum including GCSE subjects”. Using technology to empower the students to perform
The school was clear that technology is not about computers, it is about new ways of working, and maximizing the specialisms of the school. Using the EFA’s framework for ICT suppliers now known as RM1050, they selected XMA.
XMA had previously supplied solutions for the Corby business academy and have demonstrated their
ability to add value through curriculum, engagement in STEM subjects. Because XMA had extensive experience working with schools to enhance the curriculum they saw XMA as a national partner.
XMA already had a strong relationship with the business academy, did a terrific job before, and their project managers are unshakable. They made the best of every challenge we faced – including working around building construction delays. XMA’s solution not only fitted within our budget but was sustainable over the 5 year contract period and added significant value. Matt Robbins, Head of IT for Corby Technical School
They required an IT platform that could be managed easily by the Multi Academy Trust, including common management tools and functionality, together with anywhere anytime learning. In addition, they required a future-proofed IT package that would cut out the need for replenishment of the software in the near future. They selected HP hardware for their security, speed and stability.
"XMA’s expertise with HP solutions gave us masses of confidence," said Matt. "They are great people, extremely focused and dedicated, and they always went above and beyond the normal way of working – they are as invested in this as we are.”
The school invested in HP’s virtual desktop infrastructure. Matt explains why he is so confident in HP:
"Our teachers don’t want to know what the IT is. They just want to know how well it works. HP servers are rock solid, and their server management tools are unsurpassed. I can manage hard drive updates and flash drive upgrades all from one console, plus the auto-regulation is great – it tells me when upgrades are needed. Other servers I’ve used are nowhere near as good, and are not progressing. HP networking always stands up and is never a source of problems." Standards are now surpassing those of Universities
The school have been extremely pleased with the performance of their new IT. In order to run powerful applications from a server infrastructure the school required a server farm that was reliable and scalable. XMA selected Citrix VDI to deliver the virtual desktop experience from the HP server infrastructure. This enabled students to use any device, anywhere, anytime, to access the applications that underpin the school’s technical specialism.
XMA have given us all the benefits of a
big budget without the cost. Our new server enables us to install the much needed Office 365. This means that our students will have both the knowledge and skills to progress successfully into higher education or employment.
The school was finally provided with an efficient and reliable WiFi network and the introduction of the
Remote Access portal means that Remote Access Students are now able to log in from home. "We have all the benefits of a big budget," explained Matt. "We can now give our students remote access to our server 24/7, including all software and files. We have extended the school beyond the school gates."
The benefits are all about the student outputs. For example, the school now has interactive projectors (instead of the more expensive interactive whiteboards) with Apple TV units connected. The pupils are able to use tablets to create and deliver presentations together.
"For us, it is about appealing to parents as much as students, and we can now offer pupils a genuine alternative to going to University – in some ways we have more advanced IT that they do," outlined Matt.
"Students can study here and go on to be fully qualified with a great deal of technical prowess. This simply wouldn't have happened without XMA, who could not have been more involved, even staying late many times to ensure everything worked perfectly."
XMA also arranged for enrichment activities for the school, including arranging for an inspiring talk
from NASA astronaut Dr Foale who spoke to a range of guests across the Trust. Students also performed 2 musical compositions for the astronaut to showcase the Trust’s creative credentials. The Trust used the HP IT solution to support the composition and capture and store the performance.
Setting up a new school is a very demanding process. It was hugely reassuring to know that XMA was not only managing the design and implementation of our IT solution
they were also coordinating with 3rd parties including the architects and builders to ensure we could focus the school’s attention on student recruitment and staff selection.