Background

Founded in 1988, Birkenhead Sixth Form College is one of only 94 specialist sixth form colleges in the UK. With over 25 years’ experience in educating and training young people, the College continues to be an outstanding sixth form centre providing high quality education.

 

The College believes in the potential of all individuals and fosters a culture of high aspirations for all students. As a specialist sixth form college, Birkenhead has the highest standards and expectations in everything they do. The College creates a challenging and supportive educational experience for its students with access to high quality facilities and IT.

 

Since the mid-1990s, Birkenhead Sixth Form College has become increasingly dependent on a large and sophisticated IT provision and has since won national acclaim from the Learning and Skills Network for its use of technology and mobile learning.

 

The IT estate at Birkenhead Sixth Form College is a central and vital component of the College supporting over 1600 devices, inclusive of desktops and notebooks. Having been working with Stone for over 9 years, 90% of the College’s client IT estate is made up of Stone devices with a 70/30 split between desktops and notebooks.

Situation

In 2013, Birkenhead Sixth Form College was endorsed as an accredited Microsoft IT Academy and Training Centre – one of the first education providers in the North West to have achieved this exclusive status.

 

Students at the College receive free access to a range of Microsoft programmes to support their studies and future career paths. As an official Microsoft training centre, the College offers computer training and support packages to the wider community and local businesses, further supporting the College’s ambition for success both in the College and larger community.

 

This Microsoft accreditation is a digital revolution for Birkenhead Sixth Form College. In order to maintain their reputation for the delivery of successful IT and computer training and to enable all learners and staff to achieve their full potential, the College needed to equip the Academy’s IT suite with the latest technology.

 

With the additional need for modern IT hardware that would support recommended standards from Microsoft, Birkenhead Sixth Form College needed a vendor who could give them access to contemporary IT equipment and assist in delivering the best student experience.

Solution

Alongside the need for the right hardware, Birkenhead Sixth Form College also wanted to ensure they received best value from their IT procurement. They turned to the Crescent Purchasing Consortium (CPC) framework to fulfil their specific requirements.

 

The CPC framework offers a proven route to market for further education institutions and a way of ensuring the procurement process offers value for money. For Birkenhead, this meant they could equip their IT suite with brand new IT hardware for the best possible price.

 

Reinforced by a longstanding relationship with Stone spanning nine years and a with competitive price for the PCs on offer, Birkenhead Sixth Form College selected Stone as their supplier of choice. Commenting on this, John Paul Szkudlapski, IT and Technical Services Manager at the College explains: “Stone have been our preferred IT hardware supplier for almost ten years. They always offer the best pricing based on our requirements and provide quality service and support with total end-to-end management. One further factor that helped towards our decision was that Stone could also dispose of our end of life IT equipment too. They are able to deliver our new IT hardware and then take our old equipment away for free and dispose of it in an environmentally and socially responsible way. It’s the whole Stone experience that makes us come back every time.”

 

The College had a clear vision of exactly what they wanted and knew that an all in one PC was the best option to match their requirements. It would allow them to maintain their reputation for high quality IT facilities whilst providing stylish and contemporary machines that would offer improved reliability and performance to positively impact the learning outcomes of students. Commenting on this further, Szkudlapski explains: “We knew from the beginning that we wanted all in one PCs for the IT suite. We didn’t want to be able to see base units and so an all in one was really the perfect option for us.

 

“Having supplied a specification outlining our requirements, the new iteration of the Stone All in Ones were the best solution by far. We’d had trials of the earlier Stone All in One but these didn’t really fit the bill. These new devices are amazing though and look so much better. They are sleek, stylish devices that provide us with a contemporary learning environment. We wanted devices that looked cutting edge and that really gave the ‘wow’ factor and these all in ones do just that. We’re so happy with the hardware that we now want to kit out the entire college with the Stone All in Ones.”

 

Due to its sleek, compact design the Stone All in One has allowed Birkenhead Sixth Form College to adopt a space saving environment and to make even better use of the Microsoft Academy IT Suite, which has made a positive impact on the teaching and learning atmosphere.

 

Speaking further about the impact the new PCs have had on the learning environment at the College, Szkudlapski comments: “We have witnessed a great attitude from both staff and students with the new IT equipment. They look absolutely brilliant and the students in particular love them and really enjoy using them. We believe that IT should be readily available for all our students and are delighted that the Stone All in Ones help us to make this happen and allow students to use the right equipment for both curricular and extra-curricular activities. As an added bonus, the machines also come in pre-imaged, which saves us a lot of time and means that we have a full room of PCs ready to go in a few hours. “The Stone All in One was a great choice for us – we wanted a device that would not only support the software requirements needed for our Microsoft IT Training Academy, but that would also provide greater reliability and better performance. These devices are aesthetically pleasing, space saving and above all a high standard PC. Stone have given us a contemporary, stylish and uncompromised solution for enhanced learning, collaboration and creativity which fits exactly with our aims as a Sixth Form College and accredited Microsoft IT Academy and Training Centre.”

We have had a fantastic experience of working with Stone and look forward to working with them to further develop our IT estate at the College. Having worked with Stone for a number of years now, I cannot fault the level of service and support they provide alongside their great hardware offering.

We have a dedicated single Account Manager who truly knows us and our requirements like the back of their hand. It’s a very personal touch and gives us real peace of mind that they are truly committed to us as a customer.

The same applies to the engineers as well. They are always there when we need them – we simply log a call and an engineer is sent out the very next day. They spend the time really looking into the problem and explaining why it might be happening and show us what needs replacing so that we gain an understanding too. It is a fantastic support network and the whole experience we get from Stone makes us come back every single time.

Stone provide us with a total lifecycle management solution within our IT estate – it is the complete package from supplying hardware that fits our exact requirements right through to the delivery and maintenance of this and then the disposal of all our redundant IT equipment. We work to a five year refresh and this is a continual five year cycle that works really well for us. We are exceptionally happy with the service and support we receive from Stone, in fact, we couldn’t really ask for better. This is one of the best relationships we have ever had with a company and is exactly what our continued relationship with Stone is based on.

— John Paul Szkudlapski, IT and Technical Services Manager