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Tibshelf Community School, Derbyshire serves a disparate community of nine villages spread widely across the districts of Bolsover and North-East Derbyshire. The school’s mission statement is ‘Working Together, Achieving Together’ in recognition of its collaborative culture. This collaborative culture is the nucleus of everything, including the school’s next generation ICT infrastructure.

“Stone Group has been very committed to making it work for us. They have consistently gone above and beyond what was expected from our new-build project. We really wanted inspiration and an injection of fresh ideas and Stone has given us exactly that. Their collaboration with our building contractor has been exemplary and that is testament to the skilled people they have within the team. Stone is not the cheapest, but their ability to offer a total solution and service is second to none.” Brian Fischer, Assistant Headteacher.


Building the next generation school

  • Post BSF project changed in budget size and site footprint
  • Collaborative classroom design with faculty staff
  • Consultation pushed BYOD high up on the priority list

Construction on the new-look Tibshelf Community School commenced in September 2012. Although the school had secured vital funds, the project scope had to be altered to accommodate vastly different economic circumstances. The post-BSF project budget was significantly less than it had been and meant the school’s footprint had to reduce by around 50%.

“This made us re-look at the whole flow of the school in order to ensure we made effective and efficient use of every single square metre,” commented Brian. Tibshelf’s Senior Leadership Team consulted with teachers and students to answer the fundamental question – ‘What would you want in a new school?’ – and asked them to draw their ideal classroom, knowing this would put pedagogy at the heart of the new-look, accommodating for the different teaching styles of faculty staff.

Ideas were smart and pupil-focused, for example, access to classrooms would be built outside under canopies as corridors took up vital indoor learning space – a result of the faculty’s desire for nothing to detract from the quality of the teaching environment.

The school had the starting point of curriculum excellence. With Mark as network manager involved in all stages of this consultation, the role of technology as part of the overhaul to learning spaces was integral.

A number of overarching themes became apparent:

  • The notion of anytime, anywhere teaching and learning. The Senior Leadership Team and governors wanted the same experience at home for all – students, teachers and admin staff should be just as productive out of school as they are in school
  • Personalised experience – to further the notion of anytime, anywhere, the faculty and students wanted to get the same experience whether working on a smartphone, PC or tablet

Mark offers his perspective: “This meant that Any Device Learning went to the top of our strategic IT priorities. Considering where we had been with funding historically, our budget for the future and the drive from students and teachers – this made sense for us.”

Streamline Network Management

The school’s server infrastructure is based on the latest Microsoft technology and includes:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 as the backbone – 4 Hyper-V hosts, 7 physical servers, 40 virtual servers in all powered by Hyper-V private cloud
  • Unified Windows 8.1 across multiple smartphone, PC and tablet platforms – Windows Server 2012 R2 remote access and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure functionality
  • DirectAccess through Microsoft’s server platform – gives teachers and admin staff across the school seamless three-factor authenticated remote access

Mark explains: “With the Microsoft backbone, we now have resilience in the infrastructure that we’ve never had before. We now have high availability as standard, with failover in case of an issue. Crucially this means our pupils, teachers and admin staff are non-the-wiser in the event of a malfunction on one of our physical servers.”

“The benefits for Tibshelf are tangible and have been far reaching.” Mark explains: “We knew we had it nailed when we looked at the network logs and saw we had pupils logged into the school’s systems on Christmas Day!”

Consultation on the school’s BYOD scheme illustrates that in excess of 95% of the school’s students will use the BYOD provision.

Bearing in mind the school’s desire to future proof and ensure the latest technology was underpinning academic ambition, Windows 8.1 was standardised across all PC technology. Likewise, the VDI solution ensures that a consistent Windows 8.1 experience is available even on other tablet and smartphone operating systems.

Integral ICT

ICT within the school has gone from being difficult to introduce into lessons at all, due to a lack of provision, to now being integral to the vast majority of curriculum delivery. Mark explains: “As a network manager, during lessons I used to be able to wander freely around the building undertaking administration tasks. Now I get accosted on every corner as learning has truly gone beyond the four walls of the classroom at Tibshelf. Pupils are outside lessons, capturing content on digital devices and using the core infrastructure we have provided to further their personal development.”

Already offering a supreme level of support to the school, Mark’s network management team has benefited from new network management tools. Microsoft System Centre Service Manager 2012 R2 monitors the network and provides alerts, meaning the school’s internal helpdesk offers ITIL compliant processes.

Impero Classroom Management is deployed across the school’s estate, combining network management, desktop management and classroom management in one single consolidated solution.

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