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School telephone systems

An image of a female primary school teacher interacting with a group of school children.

We provide schools and colleges with future-proofed telephone systems that are able to cope with the heavy demands placed on them.

Schools are expected to be at the forefront of technological change and innovation but budgetary constraints often mean that this can be far from the truth as many continue to struggle with out-of-date telephony equipment, unaware of the benefits that a simple upgrade could provide.

swcomms understands the strain often experienced by schools, and by reception staff in particular, but also appreciate the needs of parents. With 30+ years of experience working within the education sector, our range of solutions is designed to cope with the demands of schools of all sizes and include the following features:

Automated attendant

Automated attendant provides a useful option at peak times when it can act as a back up to reception. It will answer all calls with a recorded message before directing callers to the most appropriate person to deal with their call.

Many schools use this feature as an automatic operator out of hours and during the holiday periods to broadcast information, e.g. term dates. In the case of emergencies, messages can be changed remotely should staff be unable to access the site. Other menu options can offer recorded information to callers on sports fixtures, school trips and special events.

The solution is entirely flexible and can be programmed to initiate as required, on a timed basis or on overflow and different messages can be played at specified times.

Call barring 

Telephone systems can be programmed to restrict calls to just pre-programmed emergency numbers and internal calls. We can also programme the system to permit calls to specific numbers and area codes to keep a control on costs to ensure there are no unwanted, expensive international calls.

Unified communications

Unified communications delivers a range of sophisticated tools, such as voice and video conferencing, document sharing, presence, instant and unified messaging, etc, to improve the speed and ease of communication irrespective of location or the device being used.

Tannoy and paging messages

Messages can be broadcast to all users or specific groups of users via speakers on handsets which is particularly useful in emergency situations.

VoIP telephony

Our solutions support VoIP whereby existing data networks can be used for telephony to reduce the need for additional cabling. This can be particularly useful when additional extensions or buildings need to be connected.

Our engineers will ensure that the data infrastructure is configured correctly to enable quality of service for calls to be made over it. As well as saving cabling costs, moves and changes can be implemented with an IP solution as easily as unplugging a handset and plugging it in elsewhere without the cost of calling in an engineer.

PC telephony

This enables staff to use telephony functions within their PC environment, e.g. dial-by-name, call transfer, setting up conference calls and using a call log to keep track of all calls, including contact name, date and time of call and duration. PC telephony may also be used in conjunction with wireless networks so staff can use soft-based telephony solutions via a laptop, so they will always have telephony services wherever they are logged onto the network.

Absence voicemail

Schools require parents to call in every day that their child is off sick and very often parents know their child is not going to be well enough for school before 8.30am, either earlier in the morning or the evening before when the illness first becomes apparent. An absence voicemail can receive messages about absence without parents having to speak to your reception staff at the busiest time of the day. Many schools then use the messages to update the registers when they come back from the classrooms.

Direct dial-in numbers (DDIs)

DDIs help combat parents’ frustration at hearing the engaged tone as they reduce the need for all calls to be handled by reception. DDIs are useful for large campuses with several buildings. We advise on which extensions would benefit from using DDIs, e.g. the main line, fax, catering department, headteacher, payphones, etc. If any of these lines are busy or answered, calls can be delivered to reception or to personal mailboxes as required.

Virtual extensions & virtual pigeon holes

These ensure all members of staff remain contactable as mailboxes can be assigned to each user for more efficient message-taking purposes, irrespective of whether a user has a handset or not. Callers can be automatically directed or transferred to mailboxes where messages can be left for retrieval locally or remotely. Waiting messages are indicated by a lamp on a user’s handset, by email, by voice prompt or via multiple notifications on a departmental handset.

Notification to email accounts makes sharing the messages, copying to colleagues and archiving very easy. This voicemail-to-inbox system also ensures that where members of staff share handsets, messages are not lost, thus acting as a very efficient virtual pigeon hole.

Mobility

For some members of staff, the ability to move around the school grounds while still remaining contactable is important. We offer solutions ranging from a simple call transfer to a mobile phone, an integrated DECT solution or a wireless infrastructure used for both data and voice. The latter solution can also incorporate a push-to-talk feature equivalent of a two-way radio. We also offer a range of cost-effective mobile devices.

Windows-based programming tools

These tools enable schools to make live changes that do not cause interruption to service, e.g. directory additions, deletions and edits, extension moves, call distribution and hunt group changes, time zone details, mailbox and automated attendant administration. The programming tool decreases the need for engineer visits and therefore reduces the total cost of ownership.

Lines & minutes services

Consolidate all communications costs into a single bill. Very often this can save schools and colleges money, but also gives them a single point of contact for all bill and service enquiries. Further savings can be found using SIP trunk lines by connecting your telephone system to the traditional public telephone network via a dedicated IP connection, such as ADSL, an Internet leased line or, indeed, your existing Janet connection, to make and receive multiple concurrent telephone calls. SIP can offer substantial cost savings over traditional telephony services as they are provided at lower rental charges to help you meet your challenging budgets.

On-going support

We provide support through a range of service level agreements and we endeavour to send the same engineer for onsite issues to promote continuity of service and a familiar face that staff, teachers and pupils can trust. All engineers that visit schools are CRB checked as standard.