The JCB Academy is the first of a new concept of school in the UK. They offer 14-19 year old students the opportunity to take a technically-oriented, full-time course of study. They specialise in subjects that require technical and modern equipment – for example, at the Academy they deliver a high-quality engineering education that incorporates the use of both IT and business skills. The JCB Academy is supported by Staffordshire, Loughborough, and Cambridge Universities, amongst others.
The JCB Academy’s curriculum and learning techniques are unique. By integrating technical and vocational elements with the national curriculum, students can use state of the art facilities to put learning into practice. Students at The JCB Academy start at the age of 14, studying the basic GCSE subjects of Maths, English, Science and ICT, alongside more modern, hands-on learning experiences. With the focus being on vocational application of skills, students are also given financial training and taught how to set up a business. Nevertheless, this progressive 21st century approach to education has some very traditional values at its heart; the academy places huge emphasis on self-discipline, good behaviour and team work.
To meet their requirements, The JCB Academy go out to tender every year to find the most suitable and up-to-date device for their new students. After being dissatisfied by the other hardware provider, Dan’s team of technicians had a few companies showcase their current range of devices. Among these was Stone, a supplier known by The JCB Academy to provide exceptional service. Out of all of the companies that presented, only two were able to offer the Academy the specification that they required; out of the two remaining, only Stone could also supply the appropriate size. According to Dan, “Their laptops came in at a very competitive price. In the end, the Acer devices proved to offer the perfect blend of value and performance.”
Stone were able to provide The JCB Academy with 200 of the Acer TravelMate B113 commercial notebooks. The TravelMate B113 was the perfect choice for the Academy for a number of reasons. As a company committed to delivering high-quality devices to students, Acer have designed the slim and powerful notebook with the aim of making learning a more engaging experience. Slender yet robust, it is an excellent everyday learning companion, fitting into students’ backpacks without weighing them down and outfitted with a Windows 8.1 operating system.
Its six-cell battery can achieve more than seven hours of battery life, so students can avoid needing to recharge in the classroom where only a few power outlets are available.
The notebook is designed to meet the needs of school IT departments as well as students, as an easy to manage, budget-friendly product. It comes outfitted with Acer ProShield Manager, a suite of essential security and management tools, allowing IT managers to protect critical data.
Acer’s B113 was for the ideal fit for The JCB Academy because it matched their required spec exactly. JCB needed their wide scope of design software to function seamlessly on the laptops; this is catered for by the notebook’s performance – powered by Intel® Core™ i3 processor.
Portability was also key for the Academy, making the TravelMate B113’s 11.6” ComfyView display a highly valued feature. The screen also has an anti-glare matte surface, reducing mirror-like reflections and improving viewing in the bright light that classrooms are notorious for.
Commenting on the practical benefits of the 1:1 Acer laptop scheme, Dan says, “The main benefit we’ve noticed is that marking is so much easier when it’s digital, because a lot of students tend to struggle with their handwriting. Having the laptops also means that they can jump straight on and pick up where they left off with their work, rather than wasting time hunting through pages and pages of disorganised writing.
“I assume that the next tender will follow a similar spec, because of how successful the scheme has been so far. In the future, we may explore the possibility of a more up to date processor or better battery life, but the choice comes down to cost more than anything else – and Stone and Acer delivered supreme value for us with no compromise on quality.”