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THE OAKS CE LEARNING FEDERATION
Three completely separate infant schools managed to seamlessly join their IT networks together with Coretek's assistance and their ICT has gone from strength to strength.
The Oaks CE Learning Federation are a federation of three infant schools located in the New Forest area in Hampshire. They are proud of providing the highest standard of education, with a focus on developing children as responsible, successful individuals.
THEIR IT CHALLENGES
We took over the Oaks Learning Federation in 2010. At this time, the 3 schools; Copythorne, Netley Marsh and St Michael & All Angels, were completely separate entities with no discernible links between their IT infrastructures.
The only way to share files was via email or to physically take files between schools using a USB drive or external disk. The prospect of pupils or staff working at one of the other schools for a day was an administrative nightmare and the idea of wireless devices roaming between schools, out of the question.
The first priority was to join the 3 separate school networks. This work consisted of adding in additional routes to allow each school network to communicate with each other. One single domain was created for all 3 schools, providing a centralised repository of user accounts and thus resulting in greatly simplified administration from a support perspective.
Installing a Windows server at each school site provided a suite of enterprise-level tools included in the price of the operating system. In particular, DFS (Distributed File System), which provided a copy of the data at each school which is continually updated and therefore consistent between sites.
These same toolsets have been implemented not only in schools but also many of our business clients, for whom
reliability and constant access to data is paramount. Completion of the project was achieved within time and budget. The system has now been installed for almost a decade and by all accounts has been an unmitigated success.
Senior and admin staff hold regular meetings where they can all take their laptops (and access their own prospective files) and can easily move between schools. This has resulted in a far more productive working environment.
A culture of collaboration has been encouraged between the schools as now, pupils frequently visit the other schools to interact with the other children. As with the staff, the pupils can access all their work as if they were working at their own school.
Following this initial work, we have worked with the school and helped develop ICT further.
All three schools have prioritised IT as part of their curriculum and offer the latest technology for their pupils. This includes providing brand new Promethean IFP's (Interactive Flat Panels) in each classroom as well as a mix of iPads and Windows 10 desktops at each school.
As well as hardware, their staff have really embraced technology and have used it in a variety of creative ways.
The Federation created a video of the song ‘A Million Voices’ and posted this to YouTube and on the ‘A Million Voices’ website, which helped raise money for several charities working with refugee children throughout the world, ensuring they have food and clean water.
Staff use WhatsApp to communicate quickly, whether this is sharing ideas or informing all staff of an upcoming training day.
Every school has an individual Twitter account and each class was their own WordPress Blog so that parents can gain an insight into the daily occurrences of the school day and to highlight what they are currently working on.
These are just a few of the ways that IT is complementing and improving life at the 3 schools.
The Oaks Federation was only a year old when I joined and I inherited 3 schools with completely different IT resources and issues. Whilst the schools had always used another provider, we felt many of the issues, including networking our schools, was both much more expensive and “just another project” for them, which made things rather impersonal. Coretek were better value and provided a friendly and informed service including on-site support. When calling the company I can be put through to a technician I know and who knows our systems. Any problems are given priority and sorted quickly.
Executive Headteacher at Oaks CE Learning Federation
Coretek have been supporting The Oaks CE Learning Federation for nearly a decade and they are a fantastic example of how schools can use ICT to enrich the learning environment for all of their pupils.
We love working with the team and continue to meet every three months to discuss plans and strategy for ICT to keep The Oaks' at the forefront of technology.
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