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Viglen Enables Barnsley Academy to Play IT’s Part in the Community
Barnsley Academy in South Yorkshire, needed a fresh, innovative cross curricular ICT solution to complement a brand new building. The solution needed to enhance teaching and learning, help raise educational attainment and allow them to play a key role at the heart of their community. They asked Viglen — the Hertfordshire based ICT specialist — to design, project-manage and implement an £800,000 full curriculum and administration network and the results have been spectacular.

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The Customer

Barnsley Academy serves the communities of Kendray and Worsbrough in South Yorkshire, and opened the doors to its new building in February 2009. With capacity for 1000 students and approximately 200 members of staff, it caters for children between the ages of 11 — 18 and has a fl ourishing 6th form. A key objective of the academy is to be ‘at the heart of the community’. With this in mind a specialism in Science with Business and Enterprise was chosen to refl ect local interests, job opportunities and the skills and talents required in the area. The academy also forged strong links with local employers most notably with the Drax Powerstation, which supplies 7% of the UK’s energy.

Barnsley Academy pic Barnsley Academy logo
The Challenge

The Academy was first opened to students in 2006. While it fulfilled an immediate and urgent local requirement the original building and its ICT provision were not suited to achieving the goals of the new academy. The building, having served the community well in the past, was now old and too small for the current requirement. Hailing from a former educational era it was not fit for a modern, progressive curriculum that would inspire and engage learners, teachers and parents alike.
The ICT provision was also lacking. Where the schools ICT had once been cutting edge a lack of development and funding now resulted in an inconsistent and problem prone network. “The network at the former school site was increasingly unstable, we didn’t want there to be any barriers to learning in the new building” says Janine “As a result of the update we wanted our students to have access to the most up to date equipment and infrastructure in the borough”.
The academy needed a solution that would inspire the learners and staff, help put pride back into the local community and enable the Academy to play its full role at the heart of the community, offering extra curricular activities not only to pupils but also to adult learners through the life long learning initiative. Taking all of these issues into account it was decided that the best solution would be a brand new building with state-of-art ICT at its core. This decision was not taken lightly and given they’re previous experience ULT didn’t underestimate the gargantuan task that lay ahead of them.
Having had successful experiences working with Viglen for its previous six academy ‘refreshes’, the ULT had no hesitation in asking them to put together a complete ICT solution. Coming fresh from their sixth successive project with ULT, Viglen’s Academies Project Team had already overcome the most diffi cult part of any project — understanding the customer’s needs, objectives and desired outcomes. On submission of the project plan the ULT swiftly decided to ask Viglen, once again, to deliver the ICT solution to one of their academies. Many of the staff at Barnsley also had good experiences of working with Viglen in previous schools and were more than happy that the company had been chosen to design and install the new ICT provision for the academy.

The Solution
Barnsley Academy pic

Viglen’s academy team designed the ICT solution to specifi cally refl ect the academies specialism, as well as providing tools to enhance high-quality teaching and learning across the curriculum, Including 529 Viglen PCs and 46 Viglen laptops. The academy now has Internet facilities available in all learning spaces and every teacher and student has an e-mail account and access to the schools Intranet, which allows collaboration and home access to teaching and learning materials.
Both students and academy staff also have access to computer resources across the site. This includes dedicated ICT suites, learning resource areas and a wireless network consisting of 120 wireless access points distributed throughout the academy. This allows connectivity to the network using laptop computers, even from the sports fi eld. All this is driven by a sophisticated 3Com Local Area Network (LAN) that ensures safe, secure and timely access to e-mail, e-learning resources, printing, the Internet and educational software.
Other facilities within the Academy include a Video Conferencing system, plasma screens for displaying daily news, a computerised library and administration system as well as specialised equipment used for science data logging. Every classroom also now includes an interactive whiteboard (IWB) to further enhance the pupil learning experience.

The Result

The combination of a new building and all new state-of-the art ICT has had a dramatic impact at Barnsley. “The network is now so reliable and robust and administration is so easy that the ICT team can, instead of fire fighting, be proactive and anticipate the future need of staff and pupils.” Enthuses Janine. The school roll continues to grow, the general standard of behaviour has improved and truancy in down. Staff now have peace of mind and they have been re-inspired to confi dently deliver the curriculum using ICT.
ICT is also helping in the positive reinforcement of success at Barnsley in the form of the annual ‘Learning Celebration’ Janine explains “Success in all subjects is documented on video by staff and students. The videos are then shown during the celebration as part of an award ceremony where outstanding students, across the curriculum, are given either a gold, silver or bronze prize.” The new lecture theatre is used to screen the short films.
Evening classes are also being offered by the Academy for the first time. Again these are designed to refl ect local business needs. Now more than ever this is seen as an important strategy to help the members of local community, equipping them with the skills and tools they need now and for the future.
Indeed so good are the new facilities that the academies four local ‘feeder’ primary schools each hold classes once a week at the site to take advantage of the equipment and facilities. “This is a new thing for us.” says Janine, “But it’s been really well received and the primary kids get so much from it.”