Inclusive education is a step towards an inclusive society, where standard provision allows for a diversity of need. And for Eastbrook School, inclusivity is a fundamental component of student development. As an education provider, Eastbrook School values difference and aims to create an enriching learning environment which is beneficial to all of its students.
The school provides a stimulating environment filled with opportunities and a structure for students to develop talent and ability within a curriculum that promotes lifelong learning.
With a relationship spanning over 10 years with Stone, the school now has over 300 Stone PCs within their 6 core suites of their ICT estate alongside a robust virtual infrastructure.
With an IT estate consisting of 10 year-old hardware that was not providing the learning environment for students and staff that the school required, Eastbrook saw this as an opportunity to completely refresh and modernise their outdated ICT infrastructure.
Eastbrook School previously had an infrastructure based around Network Attached Storage (NAS) which was impacting the productivity levels of students and staff alike. And with the introduction of high definition media content into many curriculum areas, it was clear the school needed to act.
It was evident at this point that the school needed to undertake two projects to support this change – one to transform the server-side and another to completely refresh the outdated PCs. The school began to look at the cost of doing both projects at the same time, but with the budgets getting tighter and no guarantee of what funds would be available it soon became clear that doing both concurrently would prove impossible using capital purchases.
Lee Allen, Network Manager at Eastbrook School, explains: “When I joined Eastbrook last year, my major requirement was to get the school’s ICT estate up to speed with modern technology as everything was seriously outdated. Without Stone’s Payment Solutions Team putting together an operating lease, we would have had to prioritise what we do first. It is possible our refresh programme could have taken a number of years to complete. For us, leasing provided a lower overall cost and meant we didn’t have to make a tough choice between the two projects.”
Having used Stone before for other projects, Eastbrook were very pleased with the service and support they had received. The school were aware of the various payment solution schemes that Stone offered and so turned to them for advice and to find out how they could modernise their ICT estate without exhausting limited funds that were available.
After speaking extensively with the Stone Payment Solutions Team about their options, the school were advised to take an operating lease over a three year period. This would mean they would not have to prioritise their projects and could put together a solution which would allow for the completion of both the front and back end project to deliver everything they needed. The leasing scheme that Stone introduced covered the end user hardware, meaning that the school had more flexibility and budget to complete the entire infrastructure project inclusive of front and back end hardware. Commenting on this further, Allen explains: “After discussing our requirements with Stone, we realised that our best option, given the constraints on our budget, was to take out an operating lease. The fact that we could do this for our PCs was a big driver in our decision making process. We were able to successfully complete our entire infrastructure refresh and virtualisation project without having to compromise and wait until the following year to get front end hardware. We now know on an annual basis how much budget we need to set aside and with a 3 year plan in place we can make sure our system is continually updated so that students have access to the latest technology.”
The school recognised that they needed to be able to run the latest industry-standard media editing software, particularly for students at Key Stages 4 and 5, to give them the best possible opportunity for success. The new server and storage solution, combined with the latest desktop PC technology, has now enabled the school to ensure a seamless computing experience even for pupils studying graphic design and media studies that are processing high definition media content.
Eastbrook School has experienced many benefits from the VMware vSphere server virtualisation solution, including reduced server downtime and simpler network administration. And as such the school are now keen to explore a virtualised desktop solution so their students are able to gain anytime, anywhere access to the learning environment regardless of the device they are using.
The Dothill storage solution that has made up part of the infrastructure refresh for Eastbrook has also given the school significant advantages by providing them with enough space to dynamically allocate space to certain projects. Where the previous storage solution for the school was taken up in a very short space of time, with Dothill the school are able to focus on how they allocate space and make it a central point for backup and recovery. The movement from a Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution to a Storage Area Network (SAN) provision has made vast improvements to the school’s infrastructure.
Coupled with the implementation of the latest devices to the IT estate through Stone’s operating lease and entire end-to-end solution, Eastbrook are now able to achieve their aim of creating an enriching and stimulating learning environment for the lifelong learning of its students.
"We have had great experience of working with Stone and we will definitely work with them again for future IT projects. We have been extremely impressed by the level of service and support they provide and nothing is ever a problem. To know there is someone there as a single point of contact if we ever have a question or need to talk through an issue or a problem is very relieving.
In past experiences, it is usually a ‘once brought suddenly forgotten’ experience and with Stone we have never felt like that. The aftercare support service is second to none – there is no fuss, no hassle, they just do it. It has always been a challenge with other suppliers trying to get engineers out but with Stone, you log the call and they get out to you as soon as they can – you cannot ask for service better than that. It is something we have never had before.
It was this, coupled with the fact that Stone were able to offer us a complete solution that met our budgetary requirements that made our decision to choose them as our IT supplier that little easier. They have provided us with a total end-to-end solution and offer the total package – right the way from supplying the front and back end hardware to the maintenance and ongoing service and support we receive.
Our continuing relationship with Stone is based not only on their ability to provide us with a modern learning environment and a complete IT infrastructure, but also on their service provision and the aftercare support. We’re keen to develop our relationship with Stone further and are already recommending them to other schools in the area. For us, Stone are most definitely our preferred supplier for the entire IT estate within the school.”