St James’ Junior School, is located in Derby, and is one of the many schools that Link ICT supports that are part of the Derby Diocesan Academy Trust.
‘Connect the Classroom” is a Government initiative that many of our customers are already benefitting from, which provides funding from the Department for Education (DfE) to help schools upgrade their IT network.
Initially, we drew attention to school management that this funding was available and also helped them through the application process to ensure the all information was provided.
Having been granted the funding we procured the equipment and project-managed the installation and upgrade of the network with new switches, wireless access points, and configuration to meet DfE standards. This upgrade has improved their network performance to enhance teaching and learning.
The school embarked on their Connect the Classroom journey in March 2023 and is already reaping the benefits of its upgraded IT network. The work was completed in six months, with support from Link ICT Services throughout the process.
The upgrade project has allowed the school to benefit from twenty-two Cambium wireless access points, Aruba switches, with ten-year management licenses, connected with Cat6A cabling to maximise network performance. These upgrades sit hand in hand with the network cabling upgrade undertaken at the school by Link ICT Services in 2022, which was St James Junior School’s first step on the road to meeting the DfE digital and technology standards.
To begin the project, Link ICT Services conducted a comprehensive technical survey and network audit that reviewed the existing access points, switches and network cabinets. Knowledge that the school provide a Chromebook for every pupil meant that the wireless network needed to be able to cope with over 400 devices accessing the network at any one time. This information was then used to review and design a solution suitable to future-proof the school’s infrastructure for the next ten years. The network design provides a dependable connection and speed that copes with the number of connections, preventing disruption to lessons.
In line with DfE standards for switching, Link ICT supplied, installed and configured Aruba 6300M switches. These switches are managed by Link ICT Services technicians on a cloud-based interface, which gives support staff the ability to easily configure access to school networks for staff, pupils and visitors. The design of the switching also means that there is built in redundancy should equipment fail and enhances security to prevent unauthorised access to school systems.
The cloud managed switches serve twenty indoor high-performance Cambium XE3-4 wireless access points. Careful use of heat mapping means that the switches are installed to ensure excellent coverage in all areas of the large, multi-story Victorian building. As a three-form entry school, with a large number of pupils and staff, the access points meet the need to allow a larger capacity of connections at one time. In addition to improving the indoor coverage across the school, two Cambium XV2-2T1 outdoor access points have been installed to extend coverage into the playground and other outdoor areas. This means that technology can be used during outdoor learning too.
“The improvement to the school network was instantly noticeable by both staff and pupils. As a large junior school that provides Chromebooks to each of our pupils, it’s vital that they can benefit from a quick, dependable connection to the internet so that these technologies can be used without network connectivity issues holding up lessons. The fact that the new infrastructure meets the DfE standards for security also provides peace of mind that our network is secure.”
Jonathan Gallimore, Executive Headteacher of St James Junior School
Please get in touch today if you would like to see how Link ICT can support your application for Connect the Classroom funding.