The Duston School supports improved learning with Meru Wi-Fi

Meru’s high-density Wi-Fi enables uninterrupted learning and tackles staff complaints over poor network performance at UK school

The Duston School supports improved learning with Meru Wi-Fi

The Duston School in the UK has deployed a Meru Networks Education-grade (MEG) wireless solution to support its bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programme for sixth form students and its planned 1:1 Apple iPad implementation for all 1,400 pupils and 90 teaching staff.

The Northamptonshire-based academy, which has transformed itself from ‘Special Measures’ in 2005 to ‘Outstanding’ in the latest Ofsted report, has completed phase one of its iPad project in which it purchased 150 iPads for whole class use. The school is currently planning phase two, which will introduce a 1:1 iPad programme for all students.

“With so many mobile devices being deployed, and sixth formers already bringing in their own laptops and tablets, we needed a Wi-Fi set-up that could deliver scalable networking and fast performance,” said Lucy Walshaw, ICT systems and delivery leader at The Duston School.

“The feedback has been the most satisfying part about installing the new network. Before, we had regular heartfelt complaints about sluggish performance or being unable to connect, as staff had lost confidence in the Wi-Fi.  Now we have nothing but praise!”

The Meru solution replaces the school’s previous wireless network, which prompted regular complaints from staff about dropped connections and poor performance. In addition to density issues, the school’s passive infrared (PIR) motion sensors also caused channel interference with the Wi-Fi, making Meru’s single channel architecture the ideal solution, the company said.

The new wireless network will eventually support approximately 2,000 iPads for both staff and students in addition to the 500 pre-existing devices. The planned 1:1 learning programme, which could see 1,400 iPads go live simultaneously, is planned for the new academic year.

The Duston School network includes 48 Meru AP332 dual-radio, dual-band 802.11n WLAN access points, fitted throughout the school.  The ‘Hub,’ (pictured above) is one area where the school expects large numbers of users to be accessing the wireless network. This was recently put to the test when they conducted staff iPad training with 90 iPads in use simultaneously – without connectivity issues.

The school’s solution is designed to support a variety of wireless technologies including Apple TV and iPads, as well as the sixth form students’ personal devices through BYOD.  For management and security purposes the school decided to separate their network using a variety of VLANs; this was part of the wireless network deployment, which was designed and implemented by Meru Gold Partner, Switchshop.

“The Duston School is making fast advances into 21st Century learning with their mobile device initiatives, enabled by Meru,” said Mark Howell, area director for UK and Ireland at Meru Networks. “We are extremely pleased to have been selected to support the broad device deployment, and are very enthusiastic about the very positive feedback they have received from staff and others about the high quality experience they are having.”

Meru’s Education-grade (MEG) wireless solution is designed to solve educational institutions’ BYOD (bring your own device) issues and support their learning-essential applications. MEG starts with three simple steps:

  • On-board quickly with BYOD provisioning and secure wireless access mapped to IT policies.
  • Connect all BYOD devices reliably anywhere on campus.
  • Learn by deploying validated learning and teaching applications on BYOD devices over the MEG wireless solution.

The Duston School joins more than 3,000 schools in UK and Ireland who are currently using Meru MEG solutions, the company said.

Meru is at the UK technology in education show, BETT 2014, on stand E340 at London's Excel between 22 and 25 January 2014.

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