Sudbury Primary School in Wembley, Middlesex, has deployed Xirrus access points (APs) and arrays to deliver a Wi-Fi network for its 930+ pupils and 100+ staff.
The new network is based on a combination of APs and arrays deployed specifically to meet differing density requirements across the campus and has enabled the school to change its IT set up to an entirely wireless environment, removing all fixed computers. Pupils and teachers are now able to access learning applications and resources from any classroom and any device.
“The move to mobile has been driven by our head teacher as she saw the value in a flexible way of working for all our pupils and teachers,” said Mohammed Telbany, IT manager at Sudbury Primary School. “We decided against having a dedicated IT suite, instead bringing in a range of mobile devices to enable the pupils to access IT from anywhere in the school grounds.”
Sudbury introduced 180 mobile devices that are shared amongst the pupils, including 110 Windows 8 tablets and laptops for teachers. With 440 wireless devices in total, there was a real need for a steady, strong Wi-Fi network to support these concurrent mobile devices. Sudbury’s existing Xirrus network was upgraded to add more capacity to meet the growing demand from all these new devices.
“Since our upgrade, we have high performing wireless coverage throughout the school grounds and can view high definition videos simultaneously on all 180 mobile devices without any lag or dropouts whatsoever,” said Telbany.
“Staff and pupils can also access and upload documents to the network and access a range of teaching resources from their device that would previously have to be accessed from the IT suite. We can now deliver IT the way it should be, which mirrors the seamless way in which content is consumed at home.”
As part of the ICT curriculum Sudbury has online tests that run throughout the course of the year from partners including 2simple, Testwise and Education City, as well as a Fronter Virtual Learning Environment; an online community for learning and teaching. “We also run staff training twice a week on the devices, so Wi-Fi has become critical to the whole learning process for all our staff and pupils,” said Telbany.
Xirrus platinum partner Software Dialog worked closely with Sudbury to deploy the Wi-Fi network, which included a thorough site survey and configuration to ensure the network would deliver the desired performance for the school. Sudbury deployed a fully managed Wi-Fi network and is using the cloud-based Xirrus Management System (XMS) to manage all aspects of the network and control which devices are connected.
“Before opting for Xirrus, I visited a number of other schools to see what they were doing with wireless and I must say I wasn’t impressed,” said Telbany. “Most of them had too many access points and cables draped across the classrooms, which didn’t look good or deliver the best results.
“The fact that Xirrus has multi-radio arrays means that we would have required 73% more APs (57 versus 33) if we’d used another vendor, plus the Xirrus APs fit seamlessly into the classroom environment. We’d also been using Xirrus for a number of years and knew that they could deliver on their promise of high performance wireless on simultaneous devices,” added Telbany.
Sudbury is now seeing demand from guests, parents and pupils to bring their own devices into the school, so next on the horizon is to implement a separate wireless network to facilitate a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy without compromising the existing network. The Xirrus array modularity and upgradeability means that Sudbury can easily update its network to accommodate this, the company said.
Sean Larner, VP International at Xirrus, said: “Sudbury Primary School is a shining example of a school that is leading the way in its approach to flexible learning for its students. By moving completely wireless, it’s clear that ICT is now being delivered in a way that benefits the pupils and teachers and has become a critical part of the school curriculum.
“The fact other schools in the area are being invited in to see how wireless has revolutionised the learning environment speaks volumes for the success Sudbury is seeing.”
See also: Poor quality Wi-Fi impeding flexible learning initiatives in UK schools