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A schoolwide wireless network based around Huawei technology helps Wellfild Middle School increase student achievement

03/09/2015 00:00:00

“Our quality assurance process effectively means we underwrite the technology we install so that if anything fails we will replace it free of charge. The Huawei equipment we use is extremely reliable so the likelihood of faults is very slim. But for a client like Wellfild Middle School, which is new to this area and wants to feel confient in its supplier, it is crucially important.”

David McPherson,

Managing and Technical Director, Aegis

“With just one ICT room across a school of more than 300 pupils it was not easy to schedule the use of technology in lessons. Effectively, if an ICT lesson was taking place no other class could access the computers, and this made using IT across the curriculum very challenging.”

Caroline Kemp,

Deputy Head Teacher, Wellfild Middle School

Customer name
Wellfild Middle School

Industry
Education

Huawei Solution
Schoolwide Wi-Fi based around Huawei AR1200 series router and Huawei S5700 enterprise switches

Business needs

  • Improved access to ICT-based learning platforms
  • Reliable, high quality wireless networking
  • Ability to use iPads and Chromebooks throughout theschool site
  • Scalability for future requirements

Results

  • Improved student access to ICT
  • Increased effiiency for teaching staff
  • Improved student engagement
  • Growing staff confience with ICT
  • Ability to use varied and often entirely new learning tools

Background

Wellfild Middle School teaches children from years 5 to 8 (ages 9 to 13). These are crucial learning years for young people and teaching often takes place in smaller groups that allow the individual learning needs of pupils to be met.

Within that context, Wellfild school uses IT as a key teaching tool. The school has for many years made considerable use of an ICT room with traditional banks of computers at which students sit for computer-based learning. Until Autumn 2013 this was the only access to technology for learning the school provided.

The school wanted to expand access to ICT for learning by providing students with iPads and Chromebooks. The aim was for this technology to be mobile, providing students with access to technology where it was needed, both in classrooms and outdoors within the environs of the school. With technology at students’ figertips rather than located in one room, it could be used more frequently and built more deeply into more lesson plans. The use of iPads and Chromebooks could become embedded in the learning process.

Key Challenges

A key element of providing access to iPad tablets and Chromebooks for teaching and learning was to implement a wireless network throughout the school’s buildings and grounds. Prior to this the school had no wireless infrastructure and a single computer room. There was a desire to change the mindset of the school around using ICT and encourage its use in a more flid and dynamic way.

The school building is in some parts quite old, with thick walls not conducive to some forms of wireless technology. Implementation partner Aegis was able to overcome this particular challenge by using reliable IT infrastructure from Huawei. Aegis backed this up by offering a strong quality assurance element to its contract. The school had no real need to prove the case for using tablets in education. Previous studies have shown that tablets can accelerate learning in general and can help children who fid learning in more traditional ways challenging. The key challenge for Wellfild Middle School was funding the purchase of iPads, Chromebooks and the wireless IT infrastructure needed to support their use.

Solution

There were two crucial elements to implementing the solution Wellfild Middle School required. One was to fiance the purchase of iPads and Chromebooks, and the other was to implement a schoolwide wireless network. The school appointed an ICT coordinator and became part of a learning trust for its area in North Tyneside. This provided some funding, and further grant funding was applied for, which fianced the project.

Aegis IT was retained to implement the network. It chose Huawei equipment because of past experience with reliability and cost effiiency. Both of these are crucial to a school which has to tightly control spending and which needs to rely on its IT infrastructure working perfectly every day. In this respect its needs are no different to those of a business. And, similar to many small businesses, a school may lack in-house IT expertise to deal with IT issues.

The solution implemented by Aegis IT was based around a Huawei AR1200 access router, three Huawei S5700 series gigabit enterprise switches and Huawei AP5010 access points. There are currently 16 access points and while these ensure wireless coverage across the site, the system is robust enough to allow for expansion should this be required. 

The Huawei AR1200 is an enterprise class router which integrates routing, switching, 3G, WLAN, voice and security functions. It can cope with both wired and wireless networking, allowing for future developments without the need for any change in infrastructure.

The Huawei S5700 switches are ideal for a campus situation such as Wellfild Middle School. They have excellent integrated security systems and are designed to reduce the need for manual confiuration. Importantly for the budget conscious user the S5700 switches have energy saving characteristics that can help keep running costs down.

The Huawei AP5010 series access points are designed specifially to cater for locations with large numbers of users requiring high capacity throughput. They are appropriate for venues such as conference rooms, bars and, of course, classrooms.

The access points are all located inside buildings, but their reach is such that they cater for Wi-Fi outside buildings too. This dovetails well with the school’s requirement to provide tablet based learning outside the classroom.

Huawei Wellfield Middle School


Huawei Wellfield Middle School

Device Model VLAN Fibre Fibre Copper Copper
Access Router1 AR1200 2 & 10     GE0/0 - SW1  
Switch1 Main ICT S5700 28P PWR 2 & 10 GE0/25(LC-ST) Patch to Science Cab   GE0/24 - AR1 GE0/23 - LAN
Switch2 Science Cab S5700 10P PWR 2 & 10 GE0/9(LC-ST) Patch to Main ICT GE0/10(LC-ST) Patch to Maths Cab GE0/8 - Procurv  
Switch3 Maths Cab S5700 10p PWR   GE0/9(LC-ST) Patch to Science Cab   GE0/8 - Procurv  

“While this deployment was based in a school, there are many parallels with the needs of campus based smaller businesses. Robust systems, wireless access outside of buildings and scalability are all features that translate into the business environment.”

David McPherson,

Managing and Technical Director, Aegis

End-User Benefis

Students at Wellfild Middle School have benefited enormously from the opportunity to break free from the ICT room and use technology in different spaces. Teaching with iPads and Chromebooks can now happen in all the classrooms, in the hall, and in outdoor spaces.

There are many, many learning improvements that have been made possible as a result. The school is keen to exploit these to their full potential, and to use the iPads and Chromebooks in different ways to benefi students of all abilities.

Examples include:

  • The use of specifi apps designed for iPads in the teaching of English and Maths
  • The use of technology across the range of classes for research during lessons
  • Peer assessment projects, for example students recording each other playing in music lessons and then assessing each others’ work
  • Adding new dimensions to learning through video for example making video of outdoor rocket making projects and using this to learn more about the successes and failures of the project
  • Using new ways to write up and assess work for example students are using Google Docs and shared access with teachers gives marking work and sharing work new and positive aspects

In addition an iPad was purchased for every teacher. This has allowed some teachers who might be reluctant to embrace the new technology to get to grips with it, and has increased the potential for information sharing and effiiency. Teachers now share a diary more readily, for example.

After only one term of the new wireless network there are hopes for future developments. These include increasing the number of iPads and Chromebooks so that half the students could be online at any one time – up to 170 devices. The good news in this respect is that the system as currently deployed is extremely scalable and can cater for up to 300 simultaneous users.

“The benefis to both staff and students are amazing. Staff have been able to become more effiient and the quality of our communications has improved. Students have benefited from a huge change in the flxibility of using ICT in learning. This has helped every student.” 

Caroline Kemp,

Deputy Head Teacher, Wellfild Middle School

About Aegis

Aegis is a leading UK-based technology consultancy. It helps customers from all sectors with the procurement, provision and support of their business IT requirements. Aegis works with customers nationwide, providing cutting edge solutions to their individual technology needs. It helps customers gain competitive advantage, improve return on investment and allows them to concentrate on what they do best - running their core business in the most effective, effiient and secure way. www.aegisit.co.uk

About Wellfid Middle School

Wellfild Middle School is a three form entry school catering for children between the ages of 9 and 13. On entry the children are organised by ability for Maths and English, with the remainder of lessons taught in mixed ability groups. Sometimes the children will fid themselves in smaller groups to improve the pupil - teacher ratio and/ or deal with specifi learning diffiulties. Groups are flxible so that each child has access to all learning opportunities. http://www.wellfildmiddleschool.org.uk

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