Connect the Classroom funding pilot offers improved Wi-Fi to schools
Posted by Daniel Fuller-Smith on 13/07 at 10:00 AM Education, Wi-Fi,
Connect the Classroom funding pilot offers improved Wi-Fi to schools

We have been informed that there is Department of Education funding available to improve the wireless infrastructure in schools. This Connect the Classroom pilot scheme will help schools fund new access points and switches to meet the extra strain being put on Wi-Fi solutions by the introduction of new tablets, laptops and other IT equipment.

It is currently being offered to schools that were eligible for the Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) Programme, commonly known as the rural gigabit scheme. Schools are being contacted directly, so if you have not heard by now you may not be in the running just yet.

What these schools are finding is that they then need to search for suppliers that can install and support the right equipment to meet the standards of the funding, such as Wi-Fi 6 access points and a five-year minimum warranty.

This may seem a very high spec for a smaller secondary or primary school that do not think their Wi-Fi needs have not changed that much, even after the strain placed on them during the pandemic. However, if they are using old wireless technology, newer devices will not work as efficiently as they could.

To explain, the latest Wi-Fi standard is called Wi-Fi 6 (also known as 802.11 AX). Any access points older than this will start to struggle as they won't be able to operate at the newer standards. New school tablets, laptops, PCs and phones may be compatible with the new Wi-Fi standards but when they are connected to older access points, they will revert to the lower standard.

Here are a few signs that your Wi-Fi hardware is no longer working well enough:

  • Dead spots with no coverage
  • Inability to connect to the Wi-Fi network
  • Slow speeds
  • Security breaches
  • Lack of guest access/guest management
  • Limited network management tools

Dead spots and a lack of coverage can only be fixed by increasing the number of Wi-Fi access points on site and in the grounds.

Modern Wi-Fi networks will also benefit from better management tools and will allow IT managers to identify areas that are struggling to handle volume of users to see if additional access points are needed. They can monitor how much data is being moved over the network, as well as the device type and applications being used. This information can help them make decisions about restricting access to maximise bandwidth for teaching.

We do not know which schools are going to receive the funding, but we do know that we have the solutions available to meet the DfE criteria.

In this case study, our DBS-checked engineers delivered a Cisco Meraki Wi-Fi solution to Icknield School and in this one we deployed a Ruckus solution to Portfield Primary School.

If you need help finding a suitable solution, please do hesitate to contact us at education@swcomms.co.uk to organise an initial site survey and to get our help with your funding application.

Posted by
Daniel Fuller-Smith's avatar
Daniel Fuller-Smith on 13/07/2021

Daniel is one of our senior Account managers, based in our Portchester office, near Portsmouth, covering the south and south east of the UK.

Daniel has had a long relationship with the business as he managed Toshiba’s EMEA division and when Toshiba exited the comms market in 2016, Toshiba engaged with swcomms to help continue to support their base and he joined us shortly afterwards. He has since embellished his skills and knowledge to encompass our entire telephony and data portfolio.

In his spare time, Daniel is the manager of a County League U18s team at Upper Beeding FC. Daniel has twice been recognised by Sussex FA in the FA National Awards’ Grassroots Volunteer of the Year category in 2013 and 2016.

Contact: Daniel.Fuller-smith@swcomms.co.uk

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