The Highcrest Academy is a specialist All Ability Academy in Buckinghamshire. The school ethos of “Aspire and Achieve” is strongly communicated throughout the Academy and Highcrest are dedicated to creating a positive, secure and happy learning environment for students to thrive in.
In 2006, The Highcrest Academy achieved ‘Specialist Schools Technology Status’ and proudly maintain this status today with several areas of outstanding practice.
With a major focus on the use of ICT in the context of the new Computing curriculum, the Academy is committed to:
- Ensuring all students become confident, competent and independent users of ICT
- Motivating and exciting students about Computer Science
- Supporting students in all aspects of their learning to achieve their best
This is linked closely together with other specialist subjects, ensuring a whole school focus on technology and the way in which the technological ethos of the Academy can significantly improve both teaching and learning.
Computing is very important at Highcrest and because of this, the Academy provides excellent ICT facilities for students to utilise and are committed to continually growing and improving ICT across the campus.
Having reflected on what was already available and what they wanted to achieve, the Academy commissioned a project to extend the availability of ICT to students. Speaking about this further, Jackie Dean, Network Manager at The Highcrest Academy, explains: “As Network Manager at Highcrest, it’s my job to grow and improve IT across the Academy and provide students with the best facilities possible in order for us to continue to support them in their studies.
“We want all students to have core ICT skills that will enable them to progress to employment, further or higher education, and without access to the right IT this wouldn’t be possible.
“We put forward the proposal for this project because the demand for IT had increased significantly to such a level that we saw the need to put another IT room into the Academy in order to cater for our students’ needs.
“The intention was to provide a suite solely dedicated to Computing, but because space is limited we decided that it would be far better to make it a multi-purpose room for cross curriculum teaching.”
With a number of elements to the project and a tight budget to stick to, Highcrest decided it would be far more cost effective to break it down into sections. So with the space readily available and a project plan firmly in place, the Academy set out to equip the flexible learning space with the best IT hardware their budget would allow.
Due to the number of elements that made up the overall project, it was important for Highcrest to secure best value when it came to the procurement of PCs.
Having followed a rigid procurement process, Highcrest shortlisted three suppliers who the Academy believed could meet their specific requirements and Stone was successful. Commenting on the decision to select Stone as their IT hardware provider, Dean explains: “We’ve worked with Stone now for a few years and have a great experience of working with them. We knew they would be a good supplier to work with again, but had to go through the right procurement process first to ensure we received best value for money given our budget.
“Stone were extremely competitive on price and so it was this, alongside the excellent service we have received from them previously that really helped sway our final decision.”
The Academy knew exactly what they wanted in terms of hardware and specification and chose the Stone All in One as the best option to match their requirements. This would allow them to maintain their reputation for high quality IT facilities whilst providing stylish and contemporary devices that would fit with their vision of a futuristic-looking classroom. Speaking in more detail about this, Dean explains: “We knew exactly what we wanted and what would work at the Academy in terms of the specification of the hardware. On top of this, warranty was also very important for us. We attended the BETT exhibition and saw the Stone All in One showcased there. When this project came up I knew that this would be the kind of device that would really suit the room.
“Originally I thought that the Stone All in One would be out of our price range, but having evaluated all other units presented to us, the Stone devices were by far the best value for money and so we managed to incorporate the all in ones into our project and get exactly what we wanted. The size of the screens provide far more visibility for students and overall the device offers improved reliability and performance to positively impact the learning outcomes of students here at the Academy.”
Due to the multi-purpose nature that the room was to adopt, there was no need for Highcrest to keep the PCs out on display all the time. They therefore needed a solution that would encase the devices, allow the Academy to use them when needed and hide them away when the room was being used for another purpose.
Having already made the decision to use the Stone All in One, Highcrest turned to i-desk® to find a solution that would fit with these devices. Commenting further on this, Dean explains: “The Stone All in Ones were a great fit for what we needed, but because of the cross curriculum teaching that the room would be used for, the PCs didn’t need to be out all time. We needed a desk solution to alleviate this issue and to help create a tidy environment for staff and students. I had seen i-desk® at the BETT show and was very impressed with their offering too. Having looked at the different options from a number of suppliers, it was clear that the i-desk® solution had far better functionality. After speaking with i-desk®, we chose their multipurpose i-rise desk solution because of functionality, service and value for money. To top it off, the Stone All in One also fit the i-rise solution perfectly to create a truly next generation learning space.”
The Highcrest Academy now have 5 i-rise pods installed in the room. The desks rise and fall so that the devices can be stored away securely when not in use and are completely controlled by the teaching staff. When staff want to put the PCs away or bring them back out for student use, it’s all done by the touch of a button and controlled only by them. This solution has provided the Academy with a less cluttered environment for staff and students. It has helped to make a real difference and fits perfectly with Highcrest’s vision of a flexible classroom of the future and showcase room for the Academy.
“The i-desk®, incorporating the Stone All in One computers, have given the room a huge facelift,” Dean comments, “it has been transformed into a multi-functional learning space that students and staff are proud of. The room has a ‘wow’ factor as soon as you walk in and is something we’re definitely proud of. This part of the project has really helped towards the creation of that atmosphere. We are also able to use the room in line with the new Computing curriculum, which the students have taken to very well and with enthusiasm.
“The Stone All in Ones were definitely the right choice for us and the feedback from students and staff has been extremely positive. It’s encouraging to see such good feedback from students in particular and just demonstrates the right choice we made in Stone and i-desk®.”
It’s been a great experience working with Stone and I am very impressed by the level of service and support they give and continue to provide with the continuation of the three year relationship. We have a dedicated account manager who was one of the main reasons we started our relationship with Stone.
A lot of our decisions for the IT hardware were based on value for money and competitive pricing. Stone were our perfect fit in this sense but I must say our decision wasn’t all about the cost saving or price. Whilst these factors made the decision easy, it was Stone’s service, support and dedication that really made the difference.
Stone’s website is also really good and very useful for information and driver downloads. It’s really the whole package from Stone and that works especially well for us and helps to standardise our equipment across the school, which helps make the user experience and the management of our IT systems effective.
“We will definitely be working with Stone again.”