Windmill Primary School is the first UK school to deploy an 802.11ac Xirrus wireless network, using XR-620 access points (APs) to deliver school-wide Wi-Fi connectivity for its staff and pupils.
Windmill Primary School is located in Telford and caters for 360 children in the main school between the ages of 4-11 years with a nursery for 60 children. Windmill Primary's previous wireless network didn't provide full coverage across every building; the school needed a solution that could cope with increasing numbers of concurrent users across the entire site.
Xirrus helped Windmill Primary advance its network by delivering high-density, consistent wireless coverage for a digitally future-proofed environment.
Mark Gibbons, head teacher at Windmill Primary, said: "The strength of the Xirrus network supports Windmill Primary's digital learning initiative of one device per pupil. We needed Xirrus's easy-to-manage, high performance Wi-Fi to support laptop use for all students and tablets for all staff, such as iPads and Lenovo Yogas.
“Additionally, classrooms are equipped with Sahara LED screens; coupled with WePresent, teachers can wirelessly control what's shown on the students' screens from their own device. This process keeps interaction at the centre of education without losing classroom authority.
"This multi-display approach to teaching encourages better pace and engagement during classes," added Gibbons. "It makes everyone's lives easier, plus children with different needs can access learning much more easily, so we're pleased to be able to support all students with disparate requirements."
Windmill Primary needed a solution that not only provided flawless performance in a classic architectural environment, but could be installed in adherence with strict construction guidelines.
Xirrus partner IT TechLab worked in partnership with the ICT Managed service from Telford and Wrekin, to support the school with its digital learning initiative, specifically taking into account the physical building requirements.
Lawrence Whiting, IT systems manager at IT TechLab, said: "The success of this initiative came down to the unique design of Xirrus' technology and its support for the 802.11ac wireless standard. Xirrus outperforms competitive solutions by providing dual 11ac radios per AP, while network management is made easier with the Xirrus Management System (XMS)."
Rather than using specific applications or software at Windmill Primary, the pupils use their laptops for online services, video streaming and learning activities via YouTube and Espresso. Xirrus Application Control is vital to optimising performance of these services.
In terms of the immediate benefits, having high-performance Wi-Fi in place enables the school to make full use of video in teaching. The use of Xirrus APs makes for a viable, future proof solution due to software programmability -- providing the flexibility to operate Wi-Fi radios in either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands depending on the current client mix.
The school is committed to purchasing 360 802.11ac compatible laptops for every student next academic year.
"Video and desktop streaming is very important to the school now; it's a core part of imminent technology plans," emphasised Gibbons. "The Xirrus network has driven these plans forward and we're now able to consider a variety of new processes, outside of the typical confines of the classroom, that hadn't previously been possible.
"Straight away we've been able to see improvements in kids' learning; the Internet speed and performance all around the school are much better, which has reduced frustration for teachers and students trying to work, stream and communicate at once. With the Xirrus network we're now looking to roll-out a tablet scheme for all students in the next 12 months to deliver 100% IT mobility."
Shane Buckley, CEO of Xirrus, said: "We have the technology to translate usual education processes into captivating classroom experiences, which both engage students and give staff the flexibility and ease to manage classes in efficient and effective ways. Our industry-first all-802.11ac network solution is designed to support institutions that are pushing the boundaries of learning and challenging traditional infrastructures that aren't delivering best results."