St. Wilfrid's Church of England Primary Academy, Wigan

Completing a wireless overhaul in 5 days because it was essential teaching and learning.

The Solution deployed?

We completed a wireless upgrade and moved St. Wilfrid's from a controller-managed to a cloud-managed wireless environment.

x5
Connection
Speed Increase

£660+
Monetary Saving
per year by adopting a cloud-based wireless infrastructure

98%
Customer
Satisfaction Score

5.5hr
Time Saving
per year by adopting a cloud-based wireless infrastructure

x3
Improvement in
Device Density

St. Wilfrid's Church of England Primary School

About St. Wilfrid's

St. Wilfrid’s is a Church of England Academy Converter in Standish, Lancashire. The coeducational primary school educates over 500 pupils aged between 3 and 11. The Primary Academy is passionate about working to ensure that all children are achieving their best and are happy.

The current Academy buildings are relatively new being from the 1960's, given that the school’s history dates back to Medieval times. The earliest records of a school in Standish are from 1553, at the time it was a boysonly school run by the local Chantry Priest. In 1797 a girls' school was established but it wasn't until 1963 that they combined and became a school on the same Rectory Lane site that St. Wilfrid's sits on today.

St. Wilfrid’s were deemed Outstanding in all areas by Ofsted in September 2007 and had an equally successful SIAMs inspection in January 2018. They received ‘Primary School of the Year’ in the Wigan Education Awards in 2019 and are extremely proud of these achievements.

Our existing relationship

As an existing customer of over 10 years, when the team at St. Wilfrid’s have a problem, they tend to come to Virtue first. Over the years we’ve supplied their InVentry school sign-in system and auditing, their network and web protection through Sophos as well as their digital signage, VMware server virtualisation and their Microsoft Office licenses.

This meant that when St. Wilfrid’s suffered issues with their wireless infrastructure, it’s Virtue that they came to so they could understand the problem and how to resolve it.

We now also support them as a Multi-Academy Trust, The Learning Together Trust is made up of 4 Primary Schools, including St. Wilfrid’s. We’ve supported the Trust to onboard Office 365 with its own cloud backup solution and developed an offsite backup for their data. We also provided some of the schools with the classroom management system, Netsupport. From a managed service perspective, we provide ongoing SIMS Tech Support and Gold Core Services Support.

St. Wilfrid's - Learning Together Trust map
Fortinet Wireless Controller

The Challenge

St. Wilfrid’s contacted us when their existing Meru wireless controller failed. Wireless is critical for the schools learning environment, so we need to get a fix or new solution deployed as quickly as possible. We spoke with the IT team who look after the whole Learning Together Trust, the Trust Finance Manager Rose Crompton and St. Wilfrid’s Headteacher Stuart Colothan to explain the situation and help them find a resolution.

When we weighed up the options, because the system was 10 years old, we suggested the school invest in a new wireless infrastructure. We explained that it was cost-prohibitive, particularly in the long term, to fix the existing on-premise controller-based wireless. We suggested also taking the opportunity to move to a cloud-based infrastructure.

Working with Virtue’s to find a solution

St. Wilfrid’s infrastructure was built on a Meru Network, in the 10 years that the access points and controller were in use at the school, the company had been purchased by Fortinet. Fortinet still offered the controller-based wireless set-up that St. Wilfrid’s had, but after speaking to the Leadership and IT Teams at the Trust, we didn’t want to replace like for like if it didn’t support their wider and long-term IT strategy.



We recommended that St. Wilfrid’s continued to use Fortinet, however, we recommended the move to a Cloud Managed Wireless set-up due to the solution’s flexibility, ease of setup and scalability.

We recommended Fortinet, not only because they were the existing service provider for St. Wilfrid’s but because we’ve worked with them for several years and think their product set is exceptional.

Virtue provided the expertise, experience and buying power
to maximise budgets and achieve effective IT solutions.

Their cloud managed WLAN differs from other cloud Wi-Fi offerings because their FortiAP-S series Access Points combine the convenience and simplicity of cloud management (through FortiCloud) with aspects of UTM protection. The Access Points add additional layers of security to St. Wilfrid’s infrastructure and the other huge benefit for St. Wilfrid’s in particular is the scalability. As the school grows, if more buildings are added, or if as a Trust, they decide to have a centralised solution managed at a Trust level, St. Wilfrid's can now accommodate that decision without having to alter their infrastructure again.
We recommended St. Wilfrid’s utilise these APs controlling them with a switch so that the underlying controller software and infrastructure are managed by Fortinet as the service provider. All the IT Team have to do now is schedule a convenient window for updates to happen. The fact that the St. Wilfrid’s IT staff don’t now need to spend their time or energy updating and patching their WLAN equipment. Although this can often be an overlooked benefit of cloud managed Wi-Fi versus on-premise, it has actually saved them £660 in time in its first year.

The Virtue Difference

Throughout the project, and in fact all their dealings with us, St. Wilfrid’s have a single point of contact. This doesn’t mean they don’t or can’t speak to other people in our team, but it means they know exactly who to contact when they need an update. We manage supplier relationships for the project too, to minimise disruption and admin for the school.

In the case of St. Wilfrid’s, Wi-Fi is an integral part of their teaching and learning so we knew we’d need to help them find a solution and implement it as quickly as possible. We had their new solution, including new data runs and configuration, up and running within 5 days.

Fortinet Cloud-based Wi-Fi Dashboard

Virtue provided the expertise, experience and buying power
to maximise budgets and achieve effective IT solutions.

We worked with St. Wilfrid’s to understand their IT needs for the project so we could ensure we’d achieve the best value for money solution for them. Once we understand a school’s needs and budget, we work with carriers and manufacturers who we’ve maintained long-standing relationships with, in order to maximise that budget.

As an education-focused IT partner, we ensure that our work is carried out and results in compliance with DfE and Ofsted conditions as well as safeguarding requirements. We also helped St. Wilfrid’s improve their security by implementing the new Access Points and ensuring their Sophos security solution was attached to the new infrastructure.

“Whenever we have an IT related concern or an enhancement we want to make, we speak with Virtue. They help us understand the problem and how to resolve it. They explain our options and develop a plan that fits with our ongoing strategy. Most importantly for me, they’ve never delivered a project to us yet that wasn’t within budget.”
Rose Crompton, Finance Manager,
The Learning Together Trust
St. Wilfrid's students

The Benefits

  • Faster user access
  • Greater connection speeds
  • Improved ability to handle network density
  • Greater flexibility and reliability
  • Maximised budget

The set-up we’ve put in place has given them the ability to take advantage of advancements in technology meaning their network infrastructure is faster and more reliable, but it’s also easy to monitor and control in-house for them. There’s greater platform agility, providing more flexibility alongside the reliability which means that the wireless solution now in place can truly support teaching and learning, where the old system was falling short.

Our experience of maximising budgets helped St. Wilfrid’s to achieve the most effective solution for the primary school and the wider Learning Together Trust.



Our VTL in-house IT team structure which includes a help desk, technical support and team management, providing 100% class support was a huge help to St. Wilfrid’s prior to and during the project. We can discover issues and work faster to resolve them because we have teams of highly skilled engineers at desk and in the field, this in turn becomes additional support for the in-house teams of the schools we work with.

St. Wilfrid’s Headteacher Stuart Colothan concludes“We continue to work with Virtue because they always meet or exceed our expectations. We trust their installation and support expertise because they’re real people who solve our problems by develop fit-for purpose solutions designed specifically for St. Wilfrid’s or the Learning Together Trust as a whole.”

Supporting St. Wilfrid’s

As an existing customer for over 10 years, when the team at St. Wilfrid’s have a problem, they tend to come to Virtue first.

Over the years we’ve supplied their InVentry school sign-in system and auditing, their network and web protection through Sophos as well as their digital signage, VMware server virtualisation and their Microsoft Office licenses.

Virtue Customer for
10+
Years


We now work with
100%
of the schools in the
Learning Together Trust

Supporting the Trust

We now also support them as a Multi-Academy Trust, The Learning Together Trust is made up of 4 Primary Schools, including St. Wilfrid’s.

We’ve supported the Trust to onboard Office 365 and developed an offsite backup for their data. We provide ongoing SIMS Tech Support and Gold Core Services Support.


How Can We Help You?

Get in touch today to talk through your IT challenges, we can help you find a solution.

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