Designed to offer Sixth Form and Year 9 and 10 pupils access to a more independent and personal learning environment, the implementation paves the way for state schools to go wireless by encouraging pupils to bring their own devices (BYOD) to school and save on increasingly scarce school IT resources.
The network, which sees Bradford’s Network Sentry NAC (Network Access Control) solution implemented across a Meru wireless network, enables pupils to register their own mobile devices and provides secure access to the school’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) via Buckinghamshire’s Grid for Learning (GFL).
Acceptable usage policies allow pupils who have registered to connect up to a maximum of three devices and to access authorised websites depending on their curriculum and status. A monthly anti-virus and OS patch check ensures all devices, including tablets, smartphones and laptops, are fully up to date. If failures are detected, Network Sentry points them to a remediation portal to resolve issues before access is allowed.
Managed and implemented by Bradford and Meru partner, EAC Network Solutions, the whole school was mapped out to ensure the Wifi network could operate at optimum levels at all times. The Maths Department was first to go wireless, maximising the use of mobile devices across the department and negating the need for a dedicated fixed IT resource, followed by the new Sixth Form College and communal areas, including the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) and Dining Room.
Recent additions to the network include Physical Education (PE), which enables PE staff to register pupils on their handheld devices while in the sports halls and outside on the field and all weather pitches, and the Learning Support Department, providing greater flexibility in the use and management of their mobile devices.
“Our aim is to create a highly collaborative and interactive environment for senior pupils to work in, while empowering them to take control of their learning using their own devices at school,” says Beaconsfield High School Head Teacher, Owain Johns.
“Education is now a competitive ‘industry’ and it’s our job to attract bright, ambitious individuals, as well as encourage them to stay on to the Sixth Form. We are constantly looking at ways to innovate and educate using the very latest technology, and the concept of pupils bringing their own devices to school to use as educational tools is simply the next step in that evolution.”
For Ray Oakley, IT Manager at Beaconsfield High School, the Bradford / Meru combination provides the best network possible solution: “We needed to ensure our network security was not compromised with the addition of wireless technology, and the combination of Bradford and Meru ensures that unknown devices, both wired and wireless, cannot gain access to our network.”
“Bradford is the network security specialist and Meru the Wifi specialist – one could not happen without the other. EAC has also made the whole process trouble-free and kept the door open for us to expand the network and open it up to more users and more devices in the future.”