Chorlton Park Primary School
Outstanding OFSTED report underlines Chorlton Park Primary school’s use of Virtue’s expertise for wireless network platform
This investment in ICT has been recognised in a recent OFSTED report that ranked the school as outstanding. A key factor in achieving this was the way that ICT has been extremely well used across the curriculum, supported by the wireless platform.
Having achieved the ICT mark in July 2007 the implementation of the wireless network enabled the school to become a Becta Specialist Hot House for On-line reporting. This is part of the leading Next Generation Learning initiative which links with the SSAT Engaging Parents in Raising Achievement (EPRA) initiative.
Schools are increasingly requiring their ICT users to have mobility across their site. With laptops replacing desktops, students are used to devices that enable them to carry outwork anywhere within the school, not just ICT suites. Suchan environment requires a secure and innovative wireless platform to enable new uses for ICT networks that just aren't possible with wires.
Such a situation was faced by Chorlton park primary school in Manchester. With over 700 students and being based on a spread-out site, the school knew that going wireless was not a straight forward task as Lizzie Wray, assistant head at the school, explained. “We had previously had a couple of wireless access points installed but these were very limited in range and simply could not reach certain parts of the school buildings. We wanted asolution that could securely overcome this problem aswell as being future-proof to support the school goingforward.”
Different way of designing and building networks
Chorlton Park had been dealing with Virtue Technologies for many years for ICT provision and support and being happy with the service approache dthem for their advice. After carrying out a thorough site survey and holding several meetings with school management, Virtue’s consultants recommended the installation of Meru virtualised wireless LAN.
Wireless LAN virtualisation is a fundamentally different way of designing and building networks, using technology designed from the radio layer up to make wireless equivalent to or better than wired in every way.
The Meru platform pools physical resources together and then partitions them in ways tailored to match each individual user or application. Where legacy networks cover large areas using a patchwork of microcells, Meru offers a seamless Virtual Cell that extends enterprise-wide. Where others depend on hub-like contention for access, Meru pools resources in Virtual Cell, resulting in a seamless blanket of coverage, and partitions them into Virtual Ports, each tailored to match each individual user or application. This brings power and versatility formerly unheard of in the wireless LAN and gives users on-demand connectivity.
Meru's network architecture makes the wireless LAN more like Ethernet. Every user gets a private, personalised Virtual Port that has all the security, performance and predictability that applications expect from a wire. Meru's advanced radio technology also makes the network as reliable and scalable as Ethernet, while virtualisation makes it even easier to maintain.
With physical layer security alongside encryption and authentication, it can be more secure than Ethernet. And, by avoiding upgrades to edge switches, Wireless LAN virtualisation saves money when compared to wires.
The solution was installed in late 2009 by Virtue consultants. Commenting on the new wireless platform, Lee Burnett of Virtue Technologies said, “The Meru wireless network allows for easy management, offers improved stability and does not have the same issues as some other Wireless systems where contention and bandwidth can be major problems. Additionally it allows IP telephony to be integrated and so provides the future-proofing that Chorlton Park was looking for.”
“We are delighted with the wireless network”, concluded Lizzie. “It really supports our teaching and allows us to continue developing the use of ICT in support of our aims and child development. The advice and support that Virtue have given us throughout has been first class and we will be shortly be implementing a new IP telephony system that will integrate with the platform.”
As well as enabling the school to continue with its migration away from desktop PCs to laptops and netbooks the wireless network also provides much greater flexibility with regard to visitor access as Lizzie explained, “We recently had a visit from a team of 15 people from the Special Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT). The new wireless network enabled us to quickly set up blogging for students across the school and members of the SSAT team were able to join in and update the blogs using an iPhone.
They were extremely impressed with the flexibility of the network and its capabilities.”The school is also benefitting in other ways. “We are looking at implementing a VLE and rather than just be on the receiving end of a PowerPoint presentation we can now quickly get online and trial the system while their representatives are at the school”, said Lizzie. This makes the whole process more meaningful and has saved us time in assessing potential VLE solutions.”