Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School
Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School is noted by OFSTED as “a very successful school….reaching high standards….and providing an education which develops the whole person”. With 938 students the curriculum covers a range of arts, sciences, modern languages, information technology, music and sports, as well as extra curricula activities, which include exchange visits with international students, cultural trips and involvement in charity fund raising. The number of girls staying on to sixth form is high, and the school’s position in league tables rates well above the national average.
Teachers at the school had used laptops for some time, but it was clear that the students also required online access and computers for class work. At that time the school was building a new block consisting of 16 classrooms and, unsurprisingly, IT provision was uppermost in their planning. Rather than have a dedicated IT suite, the decision was taken to install data points throughout the building and provide laptops for the students. The attraction was obvious in that fewer laptops would serve more girls and the mobility of the solution would enable the IT equipment to be used in varied areas of study.
A deliberate decision was taken not to purchase any laptops until a secure storage solution could be found. The Mentor™ range of cabinets from Colchester based laptop security company, LapSafe® Products, provided an ideal answer with their robust construction and high level of functionality. The school purchased a Mentor unit with 6 modules, providing storage for 30 laptops. Installation was carried out by XMA and Kent County Supplies.
One laptop is used as a monitor for the remainder of the computers, allowing IT staff to resolve any application problems and utilise their own management software. All the laptops are stored in the Mentor™ when not being used in class. As well as printers situated in classrooms, the school has one dedicated printer which remains with the cabinet. This provides wireless connectivity that allows students to print off work from their laptops at the end of class. Made of solid steel, locked and alarmed, the cabinet offers unrivalled protection against theft. Since the Mentor™ was purchased in early 2005, the school has not experienced any problems with downtime due to battery failure, thanks to the built-in ultra-safe low voltage recharging capability. Surge and cross phase protection are also part of the unit’s functionality, and with no access to cables via the front of the cabinet, this is a completely safe option for any age of student.
Ian Patterson from Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School, who was responsible for the Mentor’s™ implementation, is impressed with its effectiveness and ease of use. “The unit has been welcomed by teachers and girls alike. They find it easy to use and can have their laptops out of the unit, switched on, and ready to work within about 5 minutes. As teaching staff we have the assurance that the laptops are well protected against potential theft, and the alarm on the Mentor™ gives extra security even if we were to experience a break-in at the school.”
The ease of laptop use in the classroom has convinced Ian and his colleagues that mobile IT solutions offer the most appropriate, economical and flexible option for the school both now and in the future. With 938 students, Ian is convinced that laptop use will increase over the next few years. With no plans to install additional fixed IT suites, mobile storage cabinets such as the Mentor™ are likely to be high on the school’s priority list as it expands its IT provision.