Cheselbourne Village School is a small rural primary located in Dorset.
They were contacted by the Department of Education (DfE) to let them know they were eligible for Connect the Classroom funding which was being made available to a number of schools, usually in rural or poorly connected areas, to improve their Wi-Fi.
The DfE was looking for quality, robust solutions that would last schools for many years to come. swcomms were recommended to the school by Thomas Hardye School’s IT services, who look after the day-to-day IT needs of Cheselbourne, as an education communications company that had the expertise and manufacturer partnerships that could meet the strict criteria for the funding.
Following a site survey to ascertain the areas the Wi-Fi connectivity would need to cover, we recommended a Cisco Meraki solution which met the funding criteria in three main ways:
The Meraki access points are Wi-Fi 6 standard, which is the latest iteration of the Wi-Fi network protocol, also known as 802.11ax. It is substantially better than its predecessor in terms of speed, coverage and device density capacity.
Cisco Meraki solutions come with a 10-year licence, which means they will support them for a decade and their hardware comes with a lifetime warranty.
Meraki also support multi-gig connectivity with speeds of 2.5Gbps between the access points and the switch. This was a core requirement for the DfE’s specification and gave the school wireless connectivity that was 2.5 time faster than their previous Wi-Fi set-up.
Following DfE approval, our engineers deployed the solution using new CAT6 cabling to connect MR46 access points to 24-port switches. We used an MR86 external access point to provide coverage across the playing field. We also linked a separate hall to the rest of the school via a Siklu 1Gbps point-to-point wireless link. This private link uses radio waves rather than physical cables.
The solution comes with a web-based monitoring and management tool. The school receives real-time alerts if there is a network issue while firmware updates, new features and bug fixes are delivered seamlessly via the web. There are no manual software updates to download or missing security patches to worry about.
The entire solution ensures there are no dead spots and that teachers and pupils can reliably use wireless devices anywhere in the school without any frustrating drop-outs of connectivity caused by lack of coverage or too many devices.
The IT staff attended a free training course so they could understand how to self-manage the solution without having to call in any third-party engineering support.
“We are very grateful to Thomas Hardye IT services and swcomms’ help with this Connect the Classroom Wi-Fi project. swcomms had the solution to meet the DfE’s funding requirements and working with our IT company delivered a solution with minimum disruption to the school despite internal cabling challenges and a global lack of hardware caused by the semiconductor shortage. We now have a school-wide Wi-Fi solution with speeds that will enhance the educational experience of our pupils and will benefit the work of our staff. I would highly recommended swcomms if your school has been selected for Connect the Classroom funding.”
Chris Perry, headtacher
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Read our blog: Get help with you Connect the Classroom funding application
Read our blog: Connect the Classroom update: Wi-Fi for schools
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