Giffard Park Primary School in Milton Keynes, UK, has deployed a Xirrus wireless network to deliver school-wide Wi-Fi connectivity for its staff and pupils, who range from between the ages of 4-11 years.
Based on a combination of wireless access points (APs) and multi-radio arrays, the wireless network will support the school's delivery of digital learning within every subject, with notebooks provided for all of its Key Stage 2 pupils. Teachers and pupils are now able to access online resources and applications from anywhere within the school grounds and share files in a secure environment.
There was a real need for Giffard Park to upgrade its existing wireless infrastructure to support the influx of Wi-Fi enabled devices coming into the school, which now consists of 219 notebooks, 20 laptops, and 14 tablets. The school is also planning to migrate pupils from netbooks to iPads over the coming year, so needed to future-proof its wireless network to support this rollout.
A key reason why Giffard Park opted for the Xirrus network was the unique multi-radio design of the arrays, supporting 2 to 16 radios, which will enable the school to easily upgrade and scale in line with changing user demands.
"Wireless connectivity is absolutely critical to the learning environment," said Natalie Goodman, school business manager at Giffard Park Primary School. "Without it we can't deliver learning in a way that benefits pupils and fits with the way that they're consuming content in the home environment."
Giffard Park's existing wireless network had been in place for about five years and didn't provide complete coverage across the school grounds, which is what was needed to support such a high proliferation of devices. "We regularly experienced coverage black spots and it wasn't fast enough to deliver learning in a seamless way," said Goodman.
"We pride ourselves in being ahead of the curve when it comes to ICT and our Xirrus network will enable students to use their notebooks in every class, whether it be English, maths or science. We now no longer need a dedicated IT suite, which means that we're providing pupils with an enriched and collaborative learning environment. Pupils can even take their notebooks outside and connect to the Internet without any lag or dropouts."
As part of the ICT curriculum, Giffard Park uses online resources such as Purple Mash, an online creative portal where pupils can access educational activities from their notebook anywhere in the school.
"The Internet is a gateway and gives pupils access to everything they need," said Goodman. "With Xirrus we've created a safe and controlled environment that has no boundaries - our pupils have the freedom to explore and learn in a way that helps them truly develop."
Xirrus partner, Your IT Works Ltd, worked closely with Giffard Park to understand its wireless needs and conduct a full on-site survey to ensure that the network would provide Giffard Park with the connectivity and performance it required. Your IT Works then deployed a fully managed Wi-Fi network using the cloud-based Xirrus Management System (XMS) to manage all aspects of the network.
"The fact that Xirrus could provide us with a future-proofed network was very important, especially with our pending migration to iPad devices," said Goodman. "The Xirrus Array modularity means that we can easily upgrade in line with increasing user demands and its unique design helped overcome the previous issues we had with blackspots, mainly due to the fact we're in a Victorian building with thick walls.
"We also have control over all aspects of security, which ensures that all pupils are safe and secure when online," she added.
Sean Larner, VP International at Xirrus, said: "Children have no fear when it comes to ICT nowadays. It's increasingly part of their everyday life, whether it's using smartphones or smart TVs, and their skills are far more developed than they were ten years ago. Therefore, it's vital that schools are providing the necessary tools to move in line with this and deliver a rich learning experience. This is exactly what Giffard Park is doing, and high performance Wi-Fi is a critical enabler."