The Scenario.

A split site school with an historic underinvestment in IT and outdated facilities.
The two sites were 500 yards apart. One at the top of a hill (with no internet connection for 2 years), the other at the bottom.
Two unsuccessful attempts by the local authorities at connecting the two.

Unfortunately, this was an IT problem that was more than simply technical. It was a problem that caused teaching performance issues, learning issues, morale issues and went as far as threatening their OFSTED ranking.

Making the Right Decision.

Neil took the above challenge to market and invited a number of IT providers to come up with creative answers. After a referral from a friend of the school, SaaSAge were included in the list. A list that was rapidly whittled down to two as the obvious non contenders were weeded out.

Says Neil, “SaaSAge weren’t the cheapest, in fact they were the most expensive. But there was such a level of professionalism when talking to Andrew that they were the obvious choice. Their vision and their values completely aligned with ours. Those of efficient, future proof IT.”

Here’s an example.

“The iPads,” says Neil, “We’d been quoted much less for them by the other company. Thousands less. But when we took a closer look it became clear that we were being quoted for iPad 2s with only a short amount of lifespan. Andrew was quoting on iPad 4s with the much longer lifespan that we were looking for. It was important that our investment was long term – something Andrew clearly understood and something the others either didn’t understand or were simply prepared to overlook to win the work.”

Rock Solid Foundations.

Installing new computers meant nothing without the right infrastructure, the connection between the two buildings and the new WiFi set up properly.

“Fibre optic was a non-starter due to the short time scale, says Andrew Doyle, Director of SaaSAge, “There was no time to get the Council to dig up the road and BT to lay a fibre cable. The school had used VPN in the past but that relies on a decent internet connection at either end and couldn’t be guaranteed.”

The solution? SaaSAge brought in their specialist wireless networking team to set up a wireless site to site connection, running at speeds as fast as a physical fibre connection (1Gb a second no less!)

The old hotchpotch of poor quality and unreliable cabling and wireless routers were thrown out. In their place, SaaSAge installed an internal and external wireless system that allowed the pupils iPads to seamlessly roam the 2 school campus’ without dropping connection.

The Timescale.

SaaSAge certainly didn’t hang about when it came to getting Charlesworth up and running.

  • Mid- November – Contracted
  • Week Commencing 1st December – Money Transferred
  • Week Commencing 14th December – The new wall-mounted classroom computers were installed.
  • 18th December – iPad 4’s arrived fully configured and tested with secure KCOM firewalls and CapitalBytes web filtering (protecting the pupils from the horrors of the Wild West that is the internet)
  • January 4th – Teacher training began at 8am sharp, as planned.

And on January 4th, a matter of weeks since being first contacted, SaaSAge concluded installation with a full staff system introduction including iPad training and support with their Purple Mash educational software platform.

In Three Words?

“Honest, professional, personable,” says Neil. “All is working well. What we’re seeing now is staff looking forward to coming in and using it. We can now teach the full curriculum and take full advantage of the internet as a teaching resource.”

And all safe in the knowledge that SaaSAge are keeping a close eye on system performance and reliability. “Because SaaSAge remotely monitor our system from their offices, responding to issues that we didn’t even know existed, it means we don’t the need to employ an IT technician on site. The key to the success of this project wasn’t just their values, it was their vision, the structure that means the whole system works properly.”

“I’ve already referred them to other schools,” concludes Neil. “What comes around goes around, as they say.”