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Case study: How AV is at the heart of large scale expansion for London school

Today, we begin to publish a series of case studies from across the industry that showcase AV's pivotal role in a variety of vertical markets. With the restart of term for schools, colleges, and universities looming with uncertainty on the horizon, we start with education and a project surrounding the expansion of Woodmansterne School in London

Taking the school from 350 to almost 2,000 pupils, Woodmansterne School in London underwent a large-scale expansion, building a state-of-the-art secondary school to accompany its primary school facility. The large-scale project required a high-spec AV roll out to support its five-fold expansion, with the school appointing experienced IT managed services provider Partnership Education to manage the process. 

After a turbulent and delayed refurbishment of the primary school building, Partnership Education delivered the project ahead of schedule and within budget. The installation was completed within a six month timeframe, following two and half years of preparation and rectifying problems generated by the previous install. 

The project spanned 44 classrooms, each complete with an interactive flat panel display, five IT suites with 3D printing facilities, an assembly hall with a comprehensive AV system, a library, and dedicated music room facilities. In addition to this, Woodmansterne operates on a dual fibre network system, with the primary and secondary sites operating on their own network. 

To help the school staff make a more informed choice, BenQ loaned Woodmansterne an RP7501K Education Interactive Flat Panel display for trial. The flat panel features 4K resolution, multi-touch interactivity, and ‘classroom-ready’ features, with staff responding very positively and adapting quickly to the technology. Woodmansterne opted for the IFPs to be rolled out across the entire site; in each classroom, support rooms and the library. Having one display format throughout classrooms allows teachers to log-in to any panel and access all their files and lesson plans. 

Network security

Managing a secure network across the site was one of the key challenges faced in this project. Partnership Education chose to split the school’s IT systems, operating the primary and secondary facilities on different networks. Failsafe mechanisms were installed and each server was backed up on its counterpart on the other site to ensure protection against data loss.

Fibre connectivity is distributed throughout both the primary and secondary school buildings, across two separate connections. New servers and System Centre Virtual Machine Manager manage the IT suite across the site, with automatic failover across individual machines. If an entire server goes down, it automatically fails over to another, protecting the school’s data, and operational capacity. 

The assembly hall contains a professional and sophisticated AV set-up, comprising sound (including a Bluetooth enabled portable speaker for PE lessons), digital signage, lighting and projection equipment and systems along with a rack of processors, amplifiers and matrix switchers.

As with all schools, safeguarding students is a top priority, so extra measures were taken to secure data protection, electrical safety, and managing external staff on site.

Best experience

The most significant challenge however, was delivering the large-scale project on time and within budget. Through diligent project management, and by selecting a small handful of preferred suppliers, Partnership Education was able to secure cutting-edge equipment at a competitive price for the school, whilst delivering the project ahead of schedule. 

Sam Palin, executive headteacher at Woodmansterne School, said, “For me personally, we went from the worst experience a headteacher could have on a new build to one of the best experiences that you could have,” she explained. “What Partnership Education has done has worked in harmony with us. They’ve been completely committed to delivering on budget and delivering ahead of schedule. We can’t wait to do our Year Six production here and have the parents come in and be really wowed by what Partnership Education have been able to deliver for us.

“We love the greater display size BenQ were able to provide, that was a key feature for us,” she continued. “We’ve saved money by going with BenQ, and were also able to put a couple in the library and in the support rooms. I would also say the support we’ve had in terms of training has been really good.”

Partnership Education Ltd, partnered with BenQ, Lynx Networks, PTS Consulting, InVentry and Sahara.