Located in the heart of Cheshire, Delamere Church of England Primary Academy is the smallest primary academy in the UK, educating 100 pupils aged 4-11. Being small in size does not stop Delamere Academy having the biggest ideas when it comes to increasing the learning abilities of their pupils. The school structures learning to encourage as many creative cross-curricular opportunities as possible, focusing on the skills pupils need to develop their learning experience and become highly-skilled independent learners moving them to beyond outstanding.
Delamere Academy has increased its ICT capability to become a fully Apple equipped Academy. In March 2011, Principal Stephen Docking, made the decision to partner with Stone, the ICT services provider to UK Public Sector and education, after being impressed by Stone’s @ccessAbility scheme. The @ccessAbility scheme offers greater learning device options for the pupils, reduces the need for large capital ICT expenditure and minimises the headaches associated with increased administration.
Delamere Academy adopted the use of Apple products in 2009, steadily increasing their offering to pupils and staff to incorporate a greater use of ICT into the education experience. In a technology-driven world, the Academy views the effective use of ICT as an integral component for furthering a child’s learning.
With an active interest in discovering more about the available options relating to leasing computers and opening up ICT provision to more pupils, Docking attended the 2011 BETT Show at London Olympia where he discovered Stone’s @ccessAbility scheme. @ccessAbility enables parents to contribute financially to the devices on a monthly contribution basis, meaning less upfront investment for the school and considerably cheaper technology for parents than if they were to purchase the same devices on the high street.
The flexible, low-cost rental scheme can run for however long a pupil wishes. For example, if a pupil required a device for just nine months, this would be entirely possible within the framework of the scheme; as it would be if a pupil wanted to pay for a device over the course of three years. Parents and pupils are able to benefit from low-cost IT in manageable payments and schools benefit from low-cost infrastructure with highest-end support.
Commenting on the early discussions with Stone regarding the available leasing options and how the provision of ICT could be opened up to more pupils, Docking explains, “BETT 2011 made a real difference to our ability to make an informed decision and provided the opportunity to speak to a number of ICT suppliers about the leasing options available. Deciding to work with a large, stable organisation such as Stone has provided us with a great amount of flexibility with our leasing options, allowing us to agree on a lease arrangement that precisely suits our needs. As a result, we are now preparing to expand support schemes out to our parent body, offering them the opportunity to contribute to the ICT support at the school through Stone’s @ccessAbility scheme.”
Improving the infrastructure
Since partnering with Stone in March 2011, Delamere Academy has increased its stock of Apple equipment to now include 25 iMacs, all of which are dual boot, a Mac server and 30 iPads. Before this level of ICT could be made available to the pupils however, Stone needed to set up a sufficiently pervasive and robust wireless network throughout the school to ensure that when the iPads arrived over the summer of 2011, the schools had the best wireless network available. Docking explains how Stone’s technical team have been performing, “iPads are a new tool in the classroom environment and we could have faced problems with infrastructure and teachers technological know-how. Stone’s technical specialists however have provided the support and guidance that has allowed us to familiarise ourselves with the software used by Apple and overcome these challenges. Consequently, we have been able to easily integrate the use of the iMacs and iPads in the classroom and are seeing benefits to pupils’ learning as a result.”
The ICT infrastructure at Delamere Academy has now reached a standard that allows the school to utilise the new technology to its fullest. With the pupil-to-device ratio at a healthy 1:2, the next phase of the process is to roll out the @ccessAbility scheme in April 2012. Commenting on the prospect of this project Docking said, “We decided some time ago to go along the Apple Mac route and have previously worked with small organisations to supply the required ICT support. As we have expanded our needs, it became clear that we needed an ICT supplier who could not only meet our current requirements, but who also had the resources to help us develop our ICT offering beyond desktops over the coming year – the @cccessAbility scheme promises to do just that. We are still working in partnership with our registered Apple training centre, but it is also reassuring to know that Stone has an in-house Apple specialist available should we ever need any additional assistance.”
Docking continued, “I have a responsibility to the pupils, teachers and parents to secure the best value for money, therefore I wanted to experience the relationship with Stone before committing to the @ccessAbility scheme. Our partnership is a great success and I am excited to embark on the next phase of the @ccessAbility scheme in 2012.”
Moving beyond outstanding
For Delamere Academy, the decision to partner with Stone is producing tangible results in increasing pupils’ ability to learn and interact with technology. Stone engineers have configured the ICT in such a way that allows an ease of use that was not previously available. Docking explains, “We have used ICT products before that simply have not worked. However this time, through being able to easily access and update our software, we have been able to effectively manage our ICT internally, resulting in an increase of learning amongst our pupils and teaching staff. For example, although we have 30 iPads, the Stone technical team assisted us to set up and manage the network so that we are now able to download a single app which can then be easily distributed across all 30 iPads – a far more cost-effective approach.”
As with all its customers, Stone provides assistance to solve any problems and overcome any challenges customers may be faced with. Docking explains how in the beginning, this support was greatly accepted, “Stone are always available on the telephone to answer any questions and help us solve any problems. If we experience a problem that we cannot solve over the phone, Stone sends an engineer straight away, who can make sure that any new software they install is integrated with the existing hardware and they provide additional guidance and training to our staff so that we increase our knowledge and understanding of the system with every interaction.”
Docking concludes, “In 2009 we achieved the highest Ofsted grade possible – Outstanding. Our mission is to improve the quality of our education further still, whilst still upholding our achievement of creating a school that is a vibrant hub of creativity and learning. I believe that through using the latest ICT technology and support available from Stone, we can achieve this aim and truly move beyond outstanding!”