Viglen helps develop green field site to green education
Viglen’s expertise and knowledge in providing ICT to education made it the perfect IT solutions choice for All Saints Academy, Dunstable.
The predecessor school had a long history and has not been without its problems, but since opening as All Saints Academy on 1st September 2009, and with the support and governance of The Diocese of St Albans, The University of Bedfordshire and Viglen, it has gone from strength to strength. This has culminated in its relocation to a brand new, state of the art, purpose built Academy on the same site as the old school. The resulting exterior is quite simply outstanding, and the internal infrastructure and ethos have also been designed not only to live up to this exterior but to exceed all expectations. When the school sought to equip the new building with IT, they were obviously looking to match the quality and innovation of the new building.
They undertook a competitive tender process, within the Becta framework, starting in 2009. The school received seven applications for the proposal; firm bids from six and shortlisted three suppliers. The school was already aware that Viglen was a major solution supplier to schools, and IT and technical support to two thirds of Britain’s universities. It was essential to have Viglen on the shortlist as following a rigorous accreditation process, conducted by Becta on behalf of the DfES, Viglen was appointed an Accredited ICT service provider. This was a clear acknowledgement of Viglen’s excellence in providing ICT to education.
A green solution was also key for the school and it was mandated that all providers should be local to reduce the carbon footprint of the build process. Paula Burgess, Vice Principal of Operations and Finance at the school says, “Viglen met the bill in terms of locality and showed commitment to the project throughout, right from the top down. Even their Managing Director got involved, as we were local to his home address”.
Other factors played a part in Viglen’s success, including value for money but when it came down to it, the relationship just felt right for the school. Paula says, “One supplier was too big, and we knew we wouldn’t be important to them; one was too small and we feared they wouldn’t be able to deliver. Everything about Viglen — from the innovative solution and value for money through to the working relationship — was just a perfect fit”.
State of the art technology
The project architecture included a range of end user devices including; 400 Viglen Small Form Factor Omnino Desktop PCs, 70 Toshiba Laptops, as well as Apple iMacs and Macbooks to allow students to have access to both Windows and Apple Platforms. The unified network is based on HP Switching, LAN and Wireless, with Epson and SMART Audio Visual technology, all delivered, installed and supported by Viglen.
The technology systems included:
- ID Card Access
- Cashless Catering
- Library Management
- Audio Visual Technology
- Training and Ongoing Support
- Audio Visual Technology
- Training and Ongoing Support
The contract was awarded in the spring of 2010. Defining and agreeing the architecture took some twelve months in an iterative specification, review and approval process. Planning took a further six months followed by a four month installation process. This took place in parallel with the new build. Paula explains, “Of course, an 18 month building project is never without complications, and this gave us few unexpected hurdles (for example, when more asbestos was a found than had been anticipated). We had a total of ten weeks, but the September 2012 school term deadline could not be moved. As a result, Viglen lost the comfortable two month setting up time that we had allowed in our planning”.
Viglen rose to the challenge and set up an on-site team in one of the school’s many meeting rooms. In some cases, Viglen staff were on-site 24/7 installing, configuring, setting up, training, and then providing on-going support.
Some special features which enhance the school working day include:
- A Viglen PC suite dedicated to every curriculum area
- Additional PC suites which can also be shared across subjects where required
- A fantastic IT ratio of approximately 1.5 pupils for every computer
- Informative plasma screens around the school
- Viglen technology located in reception for parents without home technology to come in and use
- A smartcard printing network designed to save paper and limit distractions in the classroom
Reaching out to the local community
Paula says, “We are all very proud of All Saints, and we know from feedback from pupils, parents and visitors to the school that it is an excellent learning environment”. She continues, “With Academy status, it is especially important that we both deliver value for money and work closely with the local community. Rooms with top of the range technology make excellent meeting venues for commercial organisations, and the Viglen IT infrastructure enables us to offer technology services to local organisations less well equipped than we are”.
Tom Waterworth, Principal for the Academy summarises, “We have many exciting milestones planned for our wonderful new school over the coming years. The final phase of the building work will see a new floodlit All-Weather pitch and a Multi-Use Games Area, rise from the area which used to house the back of the old building. Starting in September 2013, we will be taking year seven students for the first time and our GCSE results continue to improve. Plus we are talking with new organisations in our community, with a view to resource sharing and adding value, every day”. He concludes, “Together, our team, our new building and our ICT partner, Viglen, have really enabled us to be successful in underpinning all of our Academy commitments, and we are really excited about the future”.
“We are excited to have secured a contract with All Saints Academy. It is thrilling to be part of a project that enhances both the school and the students every day life. We are confident that our ICT solutions will help in achieving the Academy’s goals. The All Saints Academy contract win follows on from a line of other Academy wins and we hope that these successes will be replicated in the future.”