Up to speed

School invests £200,000 in its IT systems over the next three years giving staff and students greater flexibility

Westfield Independent Day School for Girls are to implement a project by IT specialists Technology Services Group (TSG) to modernise the school’s IT infrastructure as well as introducing the latest educational upgrades.

Assistant head Graeme Wilson said: “Our existing system needed updating to bring the on-site infrastructure and networking fully up to speed. Now we’re able to provide the latest technologies that will enhance the learning experience and allow students and staff to collaborate so much easier.”

The first phase of the project includes the renewal of 130 laptops and personal computers and will also bring new servers from an external data centre back on to the school’s premises.

Mr Wilson explained: “We use up a lot of data storage, especially at exam time with large graphics and videos in our students’ art coursework. It doesn’t take long for the virtual storage to get used up and the systems to slow down.

“This led to staff transferring work via memory sticks, which meant that lots of files were duplicated over a number of devices. This was neither resourceful nor efficient.”  

TSG will implement a hybrid solution of cloud and on-site services at the school. 

Paul Burns, national technical director at TSG, said: “Having conducted our ‘cloud readiness assessment’ it was clear a hybrid solution was best for Westfield. Full cloud adoption can benefit operations with multiple buildings across multiple sites, but given that all the staff and pupils work from the one building this wasn’t necessary.”

A fully resilient, on-premise server solution will be in place to manage all the school’s larger files and Microsoft Office 365 will take care of the day-to-day work. The latest suite of products offered by Microsoft Office 365 will reduce the workload for teachers and improve efficiencies when delivering lessons and for the students submitting coursework.

Mr Burns added: “Office 365 gives the staff and pupils at Westfield School access to many of the tools that businesses use on a daily basis such as Exchange Online for their email or OneDrive for document sharing.

“There’s OneNote as well which has a specifically designed educational add-on allowing for lesson planning and set up. OneDrive allows for senior students taking their exams to securely manage their coursework from anywhere, at any time.”

TSG has also facilitated a trip to Microsoft’s main offices in London for students from Westfield in the New Year. They will receive a tour of operations and get extra lessons in using Office 365 for educational purposes.

“By taking the staff and students to Microsoft they will be able to learn first-hand about the powerful educational applications that have been developed and just how they will make their daily lives so much easier in school,” added Mr Burns.

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www.westfield.newcastle.sch.uk    

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