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Marine Academy Plymouth

swcomms provides Marine Academy Plymouth with a flexible, manageable and future-proofed IP solution to suit its growing needs.


Marine Academy Plymouth is the UK’s first marine academy. It is a state-funded specialist status allthrough school that includes a nursery, primary school, secondary school and sixth form. Its focus is on the employment pathways which are integral to a marine environment that are found in Plymouth, the south west and across the world. The Academy originally opened in September 2010 following the closure of Tamarside Community College. The primary school and nursery were incorporated in 2013. The Academy began a £10 million build project that included the new primary school, theatre, sport, dance, technology and adult learning facilities, as well as a hair salon, dining areas for senior citizens, and meeting rooms for community groups.


swcomms had installed an Alcatel-Lucent telephone system for Tamarside Community College back in 2004 and therefore already had an ongoing relationship with the school. On becoming an Academy and embarking on the new-build project, which included a new local area network (LAN), swcomms was invited to offer further assistance in suggesting a suitable IP solution to meet their evolving needs. Following a formal tender process, we advised the Academy to invest in a ShoreTel UC solution to provide site-wide IP telephony to leverage its recent investment in a new LAN infrastructure.


Innovative single system architecture
The Academy’s network manager was aware of ShoreTel and its growing reputation in the UK, so was keen to see what the solution could offer. Having already deployed a Mitel solution for several other schools, swcomms could clearly demonstrate its suitability in the education sector. The new solution serves the all-through needs of the school’s 74 extensions and is extremely resilient, guaranteeing 99.999% availability for mission-critical business continuity. Its innovative single system architecture has no single point of failure while remaining scalable for up to 20,000 users. It is future-proofed with all emerging software upgrade releases being provided within the ongoing support agreement to ensure that it will not become obsolete.


Simple system management is provided by Mitel Director - an easy-to-use browser-based interface that can be utilised by the Academy’s network manager to add, remove or change users and carry out any other system re-programming. This helps the Academy achieve the lower total cost of ownership that is central to the ShoreTel solution, as the network manager can make ad hoc changes as and when they are required to eliminate the need to call in third party engineers.


Automated attendant to greet all callers
An advanced automated attendant greets all callers with a welcome message and provides options that will efficiently direct their calls. Callers are invited to press 1 for the secondary school, 2 for the primary school, 3 for the nursery and 4 for the sports centre. Having selected one of these, callers can then choose from a range of other options, such as to report a pupil’s absence, to streamline the call handling process further and to relieve the pressure put on reception staff. Using a separate voicemail for parents and carers to report a pupil’s absence reduces the volume of calls handled by reception staff during the busy morning period. They now have the ability to leave a message 24/7 to report their child absent at a time to suit them and staff can access this information at a more suitable time. Meanwhile, a PC interface enhances the receptionists’ day to day tasks even further by giving them clear visibility of the availability of staff on site and a simple click and drag option to transfer calls.


Installation of the Mitel solution was carried out during the summer holidays to avoid any disruption during term time and to meet the building project deadlines. Training was then carried out at swcomms’ headquarters in Exeter to ensure staff and the network manager were able to use the solution from day one to take full advantage of all its features and functions.


Lines and minutes continue to be provided by swcomms to provide a single point of contact for all of the Academy’s communications needs and to eliminate any issues surrounding which provider is responsible for which aspect of its solution.


Marine Academy Plymouth’s network manager Stuart Wilkie said: “swcomms helped us pick the right telephone system for our needs. The project management and engineers were fantastic and bent over backwards for us. “The training day spent at swcomms was invaluable and all documentation provided was excellent.”


Download case study here