Lodge Park Technology College
Lodge Park is a rapidly growing Technology College; in 1993 it served around 780 young people and today that number has grown to 1290. The College, whose students range in age from 11 to 19, has been recognised for its success and improvements over the past few years and has received two consecutive School Achievement Awards.
Links to business, industry and the local community have become an integral part of life at Lodge Park. Evening classes and adult learning facilities are on offer and the College’s sports hall, which has previously been refurbished with the aid of a £2.5 million lottery grant, is used by students and the wider community,. An extension to the facilities, The Lodge Park Technology Centre, opened in 2000 – a further step towards the objective of offering students as much access to ICT as possible.
Two years ago the College embarked on a pilot project to lease 20 laptops to students in Year 7. This was so successful that when those students moved up to Year 8 it was estimated that an additional 30 laptops would be required. In fact, this estimate turned out to fall well short of demand. Currently 106 students have their own laptops that are leased by the parents from the College under a flexible and cost effective scheme, and this number is set to increase with the new intake in September and plans to open the scheme to all students in other years.
In such a dynamic environment, storage and security have become an issue for students with laptops on site. A spate of break-ins over the course of 2005, a threat from insurers to dramatically increase premiums, and significant damage and loss suffered by the College, all combined to convince staff that a permanent secure storage solution was a necessity.
Initially, the College provided laptop storage units that were constructed around a metal frame with wooden panels. These proved woefully inadequate during the spate of burglaries, with cabinets smashed and contents stolen. As Tony Sheppard, Director of IT, explains, the school was determined to resolve the problem: “We looked at various options but the LapSafe® Ambassador™ units were by far the most solidly constructed on the market. The build quality is fantastic and although they are slightly more expensive than some competitors’ units, the money we saved on our insurance premiums made this a very cost-effective purchase.”
The College purchased six LapSafe® Ambassador™ units, which were installed in December 2005. Plans to install further units are in place as the demand for laptops increases. The units are static and hold 25 laptops in modules of 5. With their small footprint and snug fit against walls, there is no opportunity to lose objects down the back of the cabinets. The students have accepted their presence with enthusiasm, and use them every time they need to store or re-charge their laptops. The College’s policy is that students bring in laptops fully charged every morning, but inevitably re-charging sometimes has to take place during the day and the Ambassdor™ units fulfil this need efficiently, with LED indicators showing when charging is complete. All units have automatic temperature control with optional Wake on LAN and remote access, but it is the individual lockable bays that have proved the most attractive asset to users at Lodge Park.
At the time when Mr Sheppard and his team were looking to purchase laptop storage LapSafe® were offering Ambassdor™ cabinets with lockable doors. These models have been successfully installed in many educational and business establishments throughout the UK and Europe, but the staff at Lodge Park were not convinced that this option was exactly right for them. Instead, they approached Lapsafe® to ask if units could be produced that had removable security bars across the front in place of doors. The development team at Lapsafe® took the suggestion and, much to the delight of Mr Sheppard, came back with a design customised to meet their needs. The bars are fitted to the units overnight and at weekends, whilst the remainder of the time the front of the Ambassador cabinets is left open, with the lockable – and secure – bays accessible to students whenever required.
Lodge Park Technology College has no plans to slow its development, and as their use of ICT increases so will their students’ access to laptops. The LapSafe® Ambassador™ units have met far more criteria than simply providing safe storage: “The students love them” says Mr Sheppard “they’re easy to use and the battery re-charging facilities are indispensable. From the time we made the first enquiry, through to the purchase and installation, communication between ourselves and LapSafe® has been effortless. We really do feel that they have gone the extra mile to meet our needs, even re-designing their cabinets to suit our own needs. If we had concerns they were sorted immediately, and the whole process was completed without fuss. We will certainly be going back to purchase more LapSafe® Ambassador™ units as our laptop usage increases.”