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EDUCATION: Taking the IT Challenges Away

Quick facts

SECTOR: Education
CLIENT: Great Gaddesden School
LOCATION: Hertfordshire
IT NEED: Server upgrade and on-going IT services
SERVICE REQUIREMENT: Competitive pricing, quality delivery, reliable support, proactive service and IT ownership

‘Assign-IT has significantly reduced any IT challenges for my team and I, so we can focus on teaching. Our lead site engineer Scott, is extremely knowledgeable and the service desk are so helpful and quick at dealing with any of our problems. I used to have to manage a list of IT tasks, but now it’s managed for me. I’m really pleased that we have Assign-IT as our IT partner.’


Great Gaddesden School is a primary school based in Hertfordshire with six teachers supporting 76 pupils. The school offers high standards of teaching and learning as well as promoting a love of learning within a safe and happy environment.

Being identified in its most recent Ofsted report as a ‘clearly rapidly improving school’ and recognising the success of partnership models (having already worked closely with governors, parents and the local parish); Great Gaddesden School decided to go out to market for an IT partner who would support it in providing its commitment to teaching and look after the IT. The school didn’t want to have to worry about IT; it wanted a reliable partner so the teachers could focus on their pupils and teaching.

Looking for an IT partner

Wanting to identify any potential IT service providers that weren’t already on its radar, the Head Teacher, Nikki Comer and the governing body went out to source local IT companies.

The driver for this enquiry was the need to upgrade the entire network and replace the existing server. The school needed to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 as it was going out of support with Microsoft. Nikki received proposals from four providers containing the costs and project plans to replace the server and to provide an on-going IT service. The key school requirements from an IT partner was:

› Competitive pricing

› Quality delivery

› Reliable support

› A proactive service

› IT ownership by the provider

One organisation that stood out was Assign-IT. The school had not worked with Assign-IT previously, but it had provided an extremely competitive quote for the procurement of the new server and installation, making it a convincing option.

Nikki explains, ‘Assign-IT stood out for the governors and I. Obviously, the very competitive pricing for the installation of the server was a key consideration, but it also seemed to provide a very forward thinking and proactive service which was something I was after.’

Budget conscious

With 80 – 90% of the budget being allocated to teaching and staff costs, the school has to balance everything else with the remaining 10 – 20%. There is no room for movement on this and the school has to best manage all its services within the yearly plan.

With Assign-IT’s server implementation costs dramatically under the schools’ budget, Nikki was able to allocate a greater amount to the continuing support. Whilst Assign-IT wasn’t the cheapest in this area, Nikki recognised that a cheap option isn’t always the best; it’s about the value of IT. By engaging Assign-IT, Great Gaddesden School would gain a greater level of service within the overall plan.

Carmine Delcore, Managing Director at Assign-IT explains, ‘we like to look at the complete IT picture for our clients. By doing this, we can often help with savings in some areas to enable them to do more in others. This way, they get the most from their IT investment, within the budget available.’

Delivering an efficient service

The engineers at Assign-IT designed and implemented a full server solution, supplied new laptops as well as upgrading existing laptops to make sure they could connect to the new server. They began by installing an ESXi server with a Windows Server 2012 R2 virtual server which would help deliver their domain, file, print and deployment services. The server replaced a Windows XP workstation. As well as now having a server that was supported by Microsoft, the school has a greater level of security, automation and ease of use for the entire network.

In conjunction with this, the engineers upgraded 40 laptops from Windows XP to Windows 7. Assign-IT found the most economical solution for the school by providing an OVS-ES Windows 7 license. The engineers then implemented a process so that they could deploy the update to all 40 laptops simultaneously, automating the entire process of installing Windows, Microsoft Office, iTalc and the licensing of these products.

The laptops and desktops were installed with Microsoft’s Office 365 Education package. Free to teachers and pupils, it allows schools to collaborate and share schoolwork. It includes online versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote, plus a OneNote Class Notebook and 1TB of storage in OneDrive. This provides users with a consistent desktop and office application experience whether at home or at school.

Practical security & connectivity

A number of policies were implemented to protect staff data. This included the setting of countywide proxy settings, configuration of wireless settings and installation of the printers. These policies allow the staff to use any laptop on the network and still have access to their data rather than being restricted to using a single machine. Availability of information is vital for any school as well of the security of it. So, Assign-IT set up on-site and online encrypted backups to keep data safe in the event of any type of failure.

The school also asked Assign-IT to look at its wireless connectivity, as it wasn’t reliable. A survey was carried out onsite to test the existing wireless capabilities, establishing the weak spots. From the analysis, the engineers replaced and repositioned the wireless access points so that all devices could access the wireless simultaneously.

Making school life easier

As well as having an ‘always available’ attitude to the service delivery, Assign-IT has utilised technology to gain efficiencies such as the rapid deployment of all student and staff machines with minimal disruption which also reduces the on-going support costs. With the new service provided, Great Gaddesden School can enjoy:

› Cost effective IT

› Increased security

› Enhanced productivity

› Reliable and responsive support

Nikki concludes, ‘Assign-IT has significantly reduced any IT challenges for my team and I, so we can focus on teaching. Our lead site engineer Scott, is extremely knowledgeable and the service desk are so helpful and quick at dealing with any of our problems. I used to have to manage a list of IT tasks, but now it’s managed for me. I’m really pleased that we have Assign-IT as our IT partner.’

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