Full STE(A)M ahead on ICT learning opportunities

Tim Phillips, UK Sales Director of Techbuyer, explains how one independent school turned cost-saving procurement into a STE(A)M opportunity for primary-aged children

PCs are increasingly part of every child’s education. However, computers are far from the only classroom learning aid, so keeping as much desk space as possible is essential. This, coupled with the need to keep costs low on hardware, has led many schools to look at mini computers over the traditional larger models. Third-party options on RAM and HDDs provide additional savings, and the components are slotted together on arrival. Techbuyer’s customer Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate in North Yorkshire saw a learning opportunity here, as 10 Year 5s assembled the computers as part of the ICT programme.

One solution for varying needs

An independent boarding and day school for girls and boys located in Thorpe Underwood, between Harrogate and York, Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate caters for children from three months to 18 years across four different schools on campus. With 1,500 students and 345 teachers on roll, and a support staff of 90, the requirement for IT equipment is significant and encompasses a wide range of educational and administrative needs.

The Collegiate has used mini computers for some time to deliver on this. Powerful enough for most end-touch requirements, these are used for everyone from Early Years children to staff. There is a significant cost benefit to this. Not only are the mini computers cheaper than conventional PCs, but commodity options on HDDs and RAM provide additional savings.

Cost-saving solutions

Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate came to Techbuyer in the summer term with an order of 280 Intel NUCs, 280 8GB RAM and 175 SSDs. We were keen to help with the project because of the smart combination of refurbished and new branded and commodity components it employed.

Director of ICT, Dave Millington, paired the NUCs with RAM and SSDs from award-winning third-party supplier Ortial Technologies. He explained that as memory and storage has become commoditised over time, often the only difference between one make and another is the sticker and the price tag.

“You can use any manufacturer and it makes no difference apart from to the price,” he said. “Brands like Intel are a lot more expensive and there is no real gain. If hard drives were failing all the time, then I wouldn’t use them, but that’s not the case.”

Conserving resources

Even better, the purchase of the equipment was allied to a long-term refurbishment programme as 95 existing SSDs had been salvaged, tested and repurposed from obsolete machines. As a quality refurbishment specialist, Techbuyer was delighted to see this smart procedure practised in schools. Not only does this benefit the budget, it also saves precious environmental resources.

An education opportunity

Assembling the NUCs with the RAM, refurbished and new SSDs provided a learning opportunity at the school. Members of the ICT department took the components into the classroom and delivered a lesson to Year 5 children on how to build your own computer.

Karen Kilkenny, Head of Chapter House, said: “The opportunity to use the ICT department to support the children in building their own mini computers was just too good an opportunity to miss. The children really enjoyed learning how this technology is put together and the computers they built are now used by all of the children in Chapter House to enhance the high-quality computing lessons delivered by our excellent teaching staff.”

For more information on how Techbuyer can help your school realise learning objectives with cost-effective IT hardware, go to techbuyer.com